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Publisher's Summary

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 one of the worst disasters in the 19th 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 The Graves Are Walking provides 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 50 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.
Based on extensive research and written with novelistic 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.
©2012 John Kelly (P)2012 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"[Kelly's] exhaustive research covers every aspect, threading the gruesome events into a huge panoramic tapestry that reveals political greed lurking behind the pestilence." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By C. Telfair on 08-22-12

Unforgettable, Haunting, and a Compelling Warning

What an amazing book! I listened well into the night, the story and the narration were so compelling. I can't recommend it highly enough! Today, I am enlightened, appalled, grieved, very angry, and even alarmed about an event that happened half a world away over 150 years ago. I'd say that's a tribute to any historical account!

Like nearly all Americans, I was familiar with the reason so many Irish left their country in the 1840's. Mostly, it was, to me, more a story of American immigration than Irish tragedy. Well, no more! This is gut-wrenching, heart-breaking stuff, and, like all the best histories, brings to life the events and people of the time.

Can you believe it? The legislature of the most powerful and wealthy country of the time failed to react adequately to a natural disaster because 1} the poor in Ireland (a lazy bunch, anyway) might become dependent on government handouts; 2) giving away food would disrupt the free market (perfectly good non-potato food was, throughout the famine, being exported at great profit from Ireland); and 3) Party squabbles and greedy personal agendas meant too little action and too little political will to help the poor (and even the formerly relatively prosperous). This could never happen again, right?

So, besides being the terrible story of an awful time in Ireland that affected the entire world, this is a dire warning for the future. Bad economies, failing crops, and over-population are international problems. Once again, we'd better know our history and heed its lessons!

Beautifully written by John Kelly and compellingly narrated by Gerard Doyle, this is an important, important book. Don't miss it!

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39 of 39 people found this review helpful


By Debbie on 10-31-13

Grueling Historical Account of Mass Suffering

I have to say that I do not normally buy purely historical audio books. I got this one on the daily deal at a discount. I much prefer historical FICTION, because I feel like I gain a better perspective on a human level, and I am more vested in the story, as well as the outcome. But I have always been interested in the great potato famine and the Irish people, so I got this one based on many of the recommendations. I feel sure that the historical data is well researched, and it is grueling to listen to. But in my opinion, it lacks HEART. It does, however, explain how something so horrendous can happen. The political times in England then are not far removed from many of the crooked, self-serving politicians of today. And red tape surely wasn't an invention of modern times, was it? The response of the "church" to the potato famine is especially gut wrenching, amounting to human beings proclaiming themselves to be God. I was able to understand the Irish immigration to America better than before, and the Irish Catholic roots here, both socially and politically. However, overall, the book was difficult to "get through". It was hard to keep my place. The scenes, terribly depressing, repeated themselves over and over, and I couldn't keep track of what year it was in Ireland . . . what had already happened and what was happening next.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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