During a Biblical seven years in the middle of the nineteenth century, fully a quarter of Ireland's citizens either perished from starvation or emigrated in what came to be known as Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger. Waves of hungry peasants fled across the Atlantic to the United States, with so many dying en route that it was said, “you could walk dry shod to America on their bodies.” In this sweeping history Ireland's best-known historian, Tim Pat Coogan, tackles the dark history of the Irish Famine and argues that it constituted one of the first acts of genocide. In what The Boston Globe calls “his greatest achievement,” Coogan shows how the British government hid behind the smoke screen of laissez faire economics, the invocation of Divine Providence and a carefully orchestrated publicity campaign, allowing more than a million people to die agonizing deaths and driving a further million into emigration. Unflinching in depicting the evidence, Coogan presents a vivid and horrifying picture of a catastrophe that that shook the nineteenth century and finally calls to account those responsible.
Review “Many intriguing points [are] made in this book…Coogan's pages spark and sputter with a deep, lingering, well-cherished rage.” ―Peter Behrens, The Washington Post
“To many, Mr. Coogan… [is the] voice of modern Irish history… makes a compelling case for why we should revisit our current understanding of [the famine].” ―The Economist
“Coogan's insistent examining of the moral dimensions of that nation's policies, and how they fueled the horrors on the ground, represents his greatest contribution to the voluminous scholarship on the Irish famine, and is this book's greatest strength.” ―The Boston Globe
“In disturbingly graphic images and compelling language based on true stories from the Famine archives and peppered with his own perspective, Coogan captures the utter devastation wrought by Ireland's greatest ecological disaster which reduced the population by one fourth.” ―Irish Edition
“The best part is that it did such a good job at keeping me interested that I'm eager to read on and learn more.” ―Fingers and Prose
“Coogan makes no bones about accusing the government of the day of “a genocidal intent”… His writing on Ireland's past is intelligent and accessible to a large readership.” ―BBC History Magazine
About the Author Tim Pat Coogan is Ireland's best known historian and the author of numerous important works on Irish history, including Michael Collins and The IRA, published to wide acclaim. The former editor of The Irish Press, he lives in Dublin, Ireland.