The Great Shame
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The Great Shame

  • Paperback
By (author) Thomas Keneally

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In the 19th century the Irish population was halved. This masterly book traces the three causes of this depletion; first the manine, second the Irish diaspora and the emigrations to places such as America and Canada and thridly the transportations of political activists to Australia. It is a quest for Keneally's Irish ancestors. Based on unique research among little-used sources, the characters and their stories come brilliantly to life; this is an important book in which the main political themes are fascinatingly explored. It also contains a remarkable collection of photographs and documents.

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  • Paperback | 752 pages
  • 130 x 194 x 46mm | 521.64g
  • 07 Oct 1999
  • VINTAGE
  • London
  • illustrations facsimiles, maps, portraits
  • 0749386045
  • 9780749386047
  • 160,007

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Author Information

Thomas Keneally won the Booker Prize in 1982 with Schindler's Ark, since made into the internationally acclaimed film Schindler's List by Steven Speilberg. His works of non-fiction include The Place Where Souls Are Born, about the American South West, his memoir Homebush Boy, and, most recently, The Commonwealth of Thieves. His twenty-three works of fiction include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest and Confederates, each of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Thomas Keneally is married with two daughters and lives most of the year in Sydney.

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Review quote

"Keneally's history of Irish emigration is a lucid, elegant and ambitious book with an epic narrative sweep" Observer

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Review text

In the 19th century Ireland lost half of its population. Some starved during the famine of the 1840s, others fled to the US and Canada; still others were transported as convicts to Australia - Van Diemen's Land - often on the slightest of charges. Irish history in the greatest age of the British empire is a saga and a tragedy of epic proportions. For Keneally it contains an element of family history: he is descended from one John Keneally, a Fenian from County Cork sentenced to hte New World in the 1860s. This book tells the tale of the thousands of men like Keneally, and Hugh Larkin the poor young 'Ribbonman' with whose the tale it begins, whose desperate circumstances compelled them to the desperate circumstances which condemned them to the hulks. The author combines the novelists literary grace with detailed research into still under utilised sources in conveying both the misery of the Irish condition and the hostility of land which awaited them on the other side of the world. He also tells the remarkable stories of those convicts who were able to escape to America or occasionally to return home again. Some even went on to enjoy prominent careers such as Thomas Meagher who would become governor of Montana. In sum, this a moving and compelling account of the forces shaping the Irish diaspora which remains such a powerful force in the politics of today. (Kirkus UK)

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