The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1948

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 520 pages
Author: C. Woodham-Smith
Year: (1962) 2009
ISBN: 9780140145151
Other: sketches, index
Publisher: Penguin

The Irish potato famine of the 1840s, perhaps the most appalling event of the Victorian era, killed over a million people and drove many more to emigrate to America. It may not have been the result of deliberate government policy, yet British 'obtuseness, short-sightedness and ignorance' - and stubborn commitment to laissez-faire 'solutions' - largely caused the disaster and prevented any serious efforts to relieve the suffering.

The continuing impact on Anglo-Irish relations was incalculable, the immediate human cost almost inconceivable.

In this vivid and disturbing book Cecil Woodham-Smith provides the definitive account. First published in 1962, this is a true classic, and is now back in print.


'Her just and penetrating mind, her lucid and easy style and her assured command of the sources have produced one of the great works not only of Irish nineteenth-century history, but of nineteenth-century history in general' - Conor Cruise O'Brien

'Mrs Woodham-Smith has made an individual contribution to Irish history. Her thoroughness in research, compassionate fair-mindedness and gift of narrative are all again in evidence' - The Times



1 Review
  • Irish Patato Famine Tradgey

    Posted by Gary B. on 19th Nov 2017

    This book brings to the reader the utter devastation caused to the Irish people of the potato crop failures in the 1840's. The complete incompetence of the English government that caused the deaths of thousands of people is clearly brought to light. The insensitivity of the American government to the plight of Irish immigrants and their attempt to stop them.

    Woodham-Smith has made a remarkable research effort to ensure the accuracy of her book. She evens has a chapter devoted to the scientific cause of the crop failure.
    Until I read this book I did not grasp the destitution of the Irish and why agricultural people could not escape this squaller even when they escaped to other countries. This book is worthy reading for anybody with Irish ancestry during this period.

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