The Great Shame

The Great Shame

Paperback

By (author) Thomas Keneally

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 752 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 194mm x 46mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 7 October 1999
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0749386045
  • ISBN 13: 9780749386047
  • Illustrations note: illustrations facsimiles, maps, portraits
  • Sales rank: 148,608

Product description

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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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.

Review quote

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

Editorial reviews

In this detour into epic history, Australian novelist Keneally (A River Town, 1995, etc.) powerfully chronicles, as he did in Schindler's List, the will to endure in the face of overwhelming catastrophe and man's inhumanity to man, but this time through Irish political prisoners transported to his country - including several ancestors. The Potato Famine of the 1840s and the resulting deaths and mass migration reduced Ireland's population by almost half within 40 years, at a time when the rest of Europe had increased in numbers. Immediately before and after the famine, spontaneous but ultimately futile protests swept the country - from "Ribbon" societies threatening landlords who dared to evict peasants, to members of "Young Ireland" who pushed for full independence in 1848. Britain's preferred method of dealing with dissent was transport to Australia. In addition to this penal colony, Britain's efforts to stamp out Irish rebellions would also influence, according to Keneally, "the intense and fatally riven politics of emigrant societies in the United States, Britain and Canada" - countries to which the prisoners would turn after escapes or pardons. Yet Keneally also recalls the indomitable resolution of Thomas Francis Meagher, the impetuous orator who later commanded the Union's famed Irish Brigade in the Civil War; John Boyle O'Reilly, who became a literary lion in his adopted city of Boston; and John Devoy, who not only organized a daring rescue of six Fenians by an American whaler in 1873, but over 40 years later helped plan Ireland's Easter Rebellion. Securely placing his characters in time while never losing sight of their individuality, he brings to life a compelling array of exiles who, when they were not achieving glory or in their new countries, were also experiencing restlessness, disillusion, irrelevance, despair, alcoholism, and factionalism. Massive in scope, intimate in detail - and memorable in execution. (Kirkus Reviews)