THE GREAT HUNGER by casll Woodham-Smith


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The Victorian era has no finer historical chatelaine than Ceeil Woodham-Smith-and the Irish potato famine, catastrophic at the time but with far longer lasting consequences, was a much greater source of human devastation than the war in the Crimea. Still, the play of personalities and their dominance of the events at hand is absent- except for some rather diffident British figures; an even greater loss for the general reader will be the abiding associations the dedication of Florence Nightingale or the doomed gallantry of the Light Brigade. ...Iseland. In the 1840's, was a country subdued by centuries of oppression and stalked by hatred of the English- the hatred of ""the defeated and the dispossessed"". Her only existence, wretched as it was, depended on the potato and by 1846 a blight which spend from the United States to Europe reached Ireland and turned her fields black. Dreadful destitution was followed by ""famine fever"" (either typhus or relapsing fever); people died on the roads, in workhouses, or attempting to emigrate ""like ghosts not men"". British political activity and relief aid was limited, both in 1846 and 1848 when the disaster recurred; Trevelyan's laissez-faire was a do-nothing policy camouflaged by the euphemism ""operation of natural causes"". All in all, it is an intensive record and study of a kind of genocide, which-while passive rather than active in form, left a legacy of long remembered bitterness. Serious readers will admire the considerable and irreproachable scholarship which is shown as well as the analytical interpretation of the political and historical aftermath.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1962
Publisher: Harper & Row