A compelling new look at one of the worst disasters to strike humankind the Great Irish Potato Famine conveyed as lyrical narrative history from the acclaimed author ofThe Great Mortality It started in 1845 and lasted six years. Before it was over, more than one million men, women, and children starved to death and another million fled the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was the worst disaster in the nineteenth century it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War. A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political greed, and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe. But even more extraordinary than its scope were its political underpinnings, and hereThe Graves Are Walkingprovides fresh material and analysis on the role that nineteenth-century evangelical Protestantism played in shaping British policies and on Britain's attempt to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character. Perhaps most important, this is ultimately a story of triumph over perceived destiny: for fifty million Americans of Irish heritage, the saga of a broken people fleeing crushing starvation and remaking themselves in a new land is an inspiring story of exoneration.
Author of nine books on medicine, science, and human behavior, Kelly (The Great Mortality) traces a path of misery and devastation as he documents one of the 19th century's worst disasters, a nightmarish six years that left twice as many dead as the American Civil War. Beginning in 1845, potato blight led to crop failures, starvation, disease, and despair, mass evictions, widespread unemployment, women with dead infants begging on street corners, and feral dogs digging up the graves of the famine dead. Peasants scaled cliffs in winter in search of seagull eggs, while thousands festered with fever and died in hospitals and overcrowded workhouses. The destitute contrived to be arrested since there was better food available in Irish jails. By the time it ended, more than one million were dead and over two million had fled abroad, leaving Ireland's population reduced by a third. Kelly mined newspapers, diaries, correspondence, journals, and memoirs for in-depth details, all amplified with 25 b&w images (portraits, drawings, political cartoons) for a remarkable recreation of the period. His exhaustive research covers every aspect, threading the gruesome events into a huge panoramic tapestry that reveals political greed lurking behind the pestilence. Agent: Ellen Levine, Ellen Levine Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Henry Holt and Co.
August 21, 2012
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