This book appears in the following booklists
in categories:History & Biography, Ireland, Scotland & Wales,
The Graves are Walking
£16.99 paperback Faber and Faber (2012)
The Irish Famine was one of the worst peacetime disasters ever to strike a European country. This is the first serious and popular account of the catastrophe for many years.
It started in 1845 with the failure of the potato crop, on which much of the Irish population depended for its basic diet, and lasted six years. At least a million men, women and children starved to death and another million fled the country. The population dropped still further over the next few decades, forever altering the character of Irish society. Harrowing images of the Famine were etched into the folk memory of Irish people, and played an enduring role in the rise of Irish nationalism.
A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political miscalculation and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe. John Kelly, an acclaimed historian of the Black Death, shows how the effects of the blight on Irish potatoes were magnified by the ideologically blinkered British response to the crisis. Ireland was too full of unproductive and backward peasants, in the view of Britain's ruling elite, which attempted to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character: an early and disastrous example of 'nation-building'.
The Famine had profound effects outside Ireland, too. There are fifty million Americans of Irish descent, and millions of Irish travelled to the industrial heartlands of Britain. Emigration became and remained the standard response to Irish social crises.
Even at this distance, the Irish Famine has the power to move and shock readers. Based on extensive research and written with great literary flair, The Graves Are Walking draws a portrait that is both intimate and panoramic, that captures the drama of individual lives caught up in an unimaginable tragedy, while imparting a new understanding of the famine's causes and consequences.
ISBN 13: 9780571284412 | ISBN 10: 0571284418
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