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The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the…

The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking…

by Thomas Keneally

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I did not think much of the writing in Schindler's List, which I recently read, and here I found that the style was not due to Keneally being cajoled into writing that book but that it really is his own. He drops the "and" from a series of three when the conjunction would clarify and he uses fragments without intention. Not like this. Where they do not add to his point. But detract.

Plus I just finished Governess about miserable C19 people so maybe I should take a break from miserable C19 people before facing more, especially in a voice I don't like.

(He writes -- in the 1990s! -- that in the 1830s the "droit de seigneur" was still in effect in Ireland. I'm sure peasants suffered rape aplenty but I'm surer that this "right" was neither codified nor regularly practiced.)
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
This is not Keneally's greatest book - I'm glad I read it, but . . . He tells the story of Irish resistance to British rule during the 19th century through the stories of key individuals who were captured and sent to Australia as convicts. One of the minor players he describes is the ancestor of his wife. The problem is that there is too much mind-numbing detail about the activities of the individuals being followed, and not enough background information on the Irish resistance to the British to allow the lay reader to put the events into context. Read March 2011. ( )
  mbmackay | Mar 31, 2011 |
An absoulutly fabulous book! I thought that the author did a great job of following different peoples lives from Ireland to Australia and then in some cases on to the USA. Lots of details, which made it very interesting. Definatly for someone who is interested in history! ( )
  TracyK1 | Feb 27, 2010 |
A very good book about the Young Ireland movement and the fate of its leaders in the 2nd half of the 19th century. The book also provides a detailed background to the Fenian movements and the Land Wars. I found the biographical information about William Brian Smith and Thomas Meagher very interesting and informative as well as the account of the voyage of the Catalpa. ( )
  jroach19 | Aug 14, 2008 |
4214 The Great Shame and the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World, by Thomas Keneally (read 1 Oct 2006) This 1999 book by the author of the famed Schindler's List (read by me with much appreciation 12 Jan 2003) tells of Irish prisoners exiled to Australia, including an ancestor of Keneally's wife, and Young Irelanders after 1848, and Fenians sent there in 1868. There are a lot of names, and Keneally tells of each one, though their stories are not of equal interest. He spends a lot of time on Thomas Meagher, who escaped Australia, gets to the USA, is a Union general in the Civil War, and ends up in Montana. There are also interesting chapters on the ship Catalpa, and its effort to get some Fenians imprisoned in west Australia free. Much of the book tells of interesting things and anyone with a weakness for Irish history (which I have, though I have not a drop of Irish blood) will find parts of the account absorbing. I did object to the author's frequent use of the word "Democrat" as an adjective, which it is not. The book is 678 pages, most of which are highly interesting. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 24, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385720262, Paperback)

The Booker Prize-winning Schindler's List (on which Steven Spielberg based his Oscar-winning film) demonstrated that Thomas Keneally could make history as compelling as any novel. His latest book, The Great Shame, expands upon the achievement of his earlier fiction. This is more than just the story of the Keneally family tree, transported from Ireland to Australia in the 19th-century. It is the story of how Irish men and women came to be dispersed all over the world, and what they made of their lives in their new homes. It is the epic history of a whole people.

The Great Shame is hypnotically readable, partly because Keneally weaves his many narrative strands so expertly and touches his story with many moments of beautiful writing, but also because it is all, even at its most extraordinary, completely true. The result is astonishingly vivid. What The Great Shame most resembles is a classic 19th-century novel: Dickens, say, or George Eliot. Readers avidly follow Keneally's characters through their successes and their trials, until the very last sentence in the book when, like a master from the classic age of the novel, Keneally pays tribute to "the piquant blood and potent ghosts of the characters to whom we now bid goodbye." --Adam Roberts

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:11 -0400)

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"In the nineteenth century, Ireland lost half of its population to famine, emigration to the United States and Canada, and the forced transportation of convicts to Australia. The forebears of Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's List, were victims of that tragedy, and in The Great Shame Keneally has written the full story of the Irish diaspora with the narrative grip and flair of a novel. Based on unique research among little-known sources, this book surveys eighty years of Irish history through the eyes of political prisoners - including Keneally's ancestors - who left Ireland in chains and eventually found glory, in one form or another, in Australia and America."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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