The Graves Are Walking by John Kelly
The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People

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Science historian John Kelly comes to this daunting task of conveying in four-hundred pages of text a complicated explanation of the origins of the Famine; its impacts as it spread along two major periods from 1845 to around 1850 in worsening...
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis


A magisterial account of one of the worst disasters to strike humankind--the Great Irish Potato Famine--conveyed as lyrical narrative history from the acclaimed author of The Great Mortality

Deeply researched, compelling in its details, and startling in its conclusions about the appalling decisions behind a tragedy of epic proportions, John Kelly's retelling of the awful story of Ireland's great hunger will resonate today as history that speaks to our own times.

It started in 1845 and before it was over more than one million men, women, and children would die and another two million would flee 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 The Graves Are Walking provides fresh material and analysis on the role that Britain's nation-building policies played in exacerbating the devastation by attempting to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character. Religious dogma, anti-relief sentiment, and racial and political ideology combined to result in an almost inconceivable disaster of human suffering.

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 revival.

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.

 

About John Kelly

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John Kelly is the author of the acclaimed bestseller The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time and Three on the Edge: The Stories of Ordinary American Families in Search of a Medical Miracle. He has written about medicine, history, and psychology for many years. He lives in New York City and Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
 
Published August 21, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.. 414 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Graves Are Walking
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Isaac Chotiner on Oct 12 2012

...it is a reminder to beware of civil servants and politicians who think they are doing God’s work.

Read Full Review of The Graves Are Walking: The G... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by John L. Murphy, Ph.D. on Aug 21 2012

Science historian John Kelly comes to this daunting task of conveying in four-hundred pages of text a complicated explanation of the origins of the Famine; its impacts as it spread along two major periods from 1845 to around 1850 in worsening...

Read Full Review of The Graves Are Walking: The G... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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