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The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  134 ratings  ·  31 reviews
During a Biblical seven years in the middle of the nineteenth century, fully a quarter of Ireland’s citizens either perished from starvation or emigrated in what came to be known as Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger. Waves of hungry peasants fled across the Atlantic to the United States, with so many dying en route that it was said, "you could walk dry shod to America on thei...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan Trade (first published November 27th 2012)
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Bill  Kerwin

Tim Pat Coogan thinks Irish historians should show some spine and stop soft-pedaling British culpability for the famine. It is true that the British (through prime minister Blair) finally apologized for the famine fifteen years ago, and have striven to deal justly with the Northern counties since. It is also true that nobody--least of all the Republic of Ireland--wants to give any ammunition to the rabid fringe of the IRA. Still, Coogan would argue that it is high time Irish intellectuals stoppe...more
John Mcging
I'll be brief. The traditional view of the famine is easily found and read. Coogan takes a position that due to a combination of a free market political view, a concern over money and a world view rooted in a Protestant bias against Catholics that the result in dealing with the potato crop rotting was equivalent to genocide. Frankly, I agree. I don't think the bar is that high that the deeds of Trevelyn and his Whigs don't meet and exceed it.

What I find more pernicious is in reading some of the...more
When I picked this book up at the library, I was looking for something a bit more broad—more of a survey, really—since even as a history student in college, Irish history is rarely mentioned, much less explored in-depth. I was a bit dubious at first. Genocide? Really? While I was more than willing to believe the British government had done serious wrong by the people of Ireland, that seemed like a rather extreme argument.

But Coogan is an excellent historian; at the time, I had never been introdu...more
Christina Gagliano
I read a book about the Great Famine in Ireland to Liam's 2nd grade class right before St. Patrick's Day, figuring they all knew about leprechauns and pots of gold, and that it's high time they learned what life in Ireland was really like. One of the kids in the class asked why the British didn't do more to help the Irish, if Ireland was supposed to be part of the British Empire. An outstanding question! I answered that, while a few British people and organizations did try to help, the governmen...more
Gail Francis
Tim Pat Coogan asserts that the famine was a case of genocide. He quotes another public figure often in saying "God caused the potato blight, England caused the famine." And he makes a pretty compelling case.

Two things in particular struck me. First, the famine was happening so close to the time that Adam Smith's theories had taken told and just prior to the ideas of Marx and Engels coming into circulation. So you had all these people in London viewing the famine in terms of waiting for the "in...more
This book gives a pretty good overview of the Irish Famine. It's main aim though is to spell out how big a part England played in the lead up to it and how little they did to help during it. It says as much on the front cover so it shouldn't be a surprise that it's heavily critical of England and it's government of the time.

Sadly there are a lot of similarities to situations still happening around the world, the chapter about propaganda in the media in particular stood out in light of what's ha...more
To those with even the most casual interest in history, the basic facts regarding the Irish Potato Famine are well known. A blighted (and thereby ruined) potato crop in the 1840's led to mass starvation, disease, and emigration. Most published works on this sad period in Ireland's history rarely touch upon the circumstances that the Irish people have long held in their common memory - the role played by the British government. With "The Famine Plot", Irish historian Tim Pat Coogan sheds the kid...more
Steve Smits
Tim Pat Coogan writes of the famine mainly in terms of the policy response of the English government. His premise is that, if analyzed in light of today's sensibility, that response could be considered an act of genocide -- hence, the title "The Famine Plot". I'm not sure I completely agree that the willfulness and intent that is a requisite of genocide completely pertains here, but there's no doubt that the callous and utterly lacking reaction by England to the Irish tragedy contributed in a ma...more
Tim Pat Coogan provides an interesting look at the role played by the English government in the potato famine of the 1860’s that changed not only the course of Irish history but of the world as well with more than 1 million Irish leaving the emerald isle for Europe, Canada and the United States. While Coogan attempts to link the famine with a genocidal tragedy of Jewish plight the crux of the book rests on the idea that the British starved the Irish through free market activities. These include...more
A powerfully written book describing colonization using 'laissez faire' economics with prejudice. In "Setting the Scene" the author goes back in time to actions of Henry II and a Papal Bull approving the Norman invasion of Ireland. He continues through Queen Elizabeth I and 1798 to the early 1800s. While there was a famine in the early 1830s it was the famine of the 1840s which was used by English Whigs in an attempt to depopulate Ireland. Protestant Fundamentalists believed that the famine was...more
Mike Emett
Another book won from a giveaway.

I know really nothing about the Potato Famine beyond: There was a potato famine, lots of Irish died and lots emigrated abroad. That is is really. So when reading this I went in with no real knowledge. Despite the author's writing style and use of repetition (which at times felt a bit annoying, this book is pretty well argued. The author tries to maintain a balance and to be unbiased, yet imbalance and some bias can be read. Did influential people within the Brit...more
Kathy Mccarthy
Excellent analysis of the Great Hunger in Ireland - or what the world has been lead to refer to as the Great Famine. How sad for the Irish that this happened. How shameful for the English for their role. Shame on the Catholic Church for not intervening. Blessings on the Chocktaw Indians and the Quakers. This book is a true education.
Tim Pat Coogan quotes "Tory Lord Brougham" a number of times. There was never such a person. The person he quotes was Henry Brougham who was enobled on 1830 so that he could become Lord Chancellor, and he was a Whig.

Brougham is quoted on page 88 - but no specific date or source is given. I was able to discover, however, that the statement quoted was made in the House of Lords on the 23rd March, 1846. If one reads to the end of the speech Brougham made that day what one finds he ameliorated to s...more
*** Won as part of a Goodreads giveaway ***

I could not finish this book. I really do feel a duty to books I have won. I took this book up twice. The first time I only made it 30 pages in. The second I really pushed and pushed and made it to page 65.

The subject matter is dark of course. The title clearly states the purpose of exposing Britain's role/fault in The Famine. I knew all this going in. I did find it very tough though. A lot of facts, information, switching between ideas. I don't think i...more
A scholarly, yet strongly opinionated book about Britain's culpability in the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s. Author Tim Pat Coogan uses original documents of period newspapers, speeches of politicians, government documents, charity organizations and religious documentation to prove his case that the British enhanced the suffering, deaths and emigration of Irish citizens. He makes very valid points but I felt that I needed more information or a more broad outlook. This was a good start fo...more
I received this book from a giveaway on goodreads and was excited to read it. I think it's important to note that this is a poli-sci book through and through. There's not a lot of narrative, which can make it a difficult read at times. But if you look at this for what it is, a well documented argument for the role that England played in the potato famine, it delivers just that. It delves deep into the policial leanings at the time, with the benefit of hindsight. If you have an interest in power...more
This was an accessible and engaging overview of the history and workings behind the Irish potato famine. While the premise, that England's role was that of premeditated murder on a massive scale, felt like a bit of a stretch, the book was well organized and engaging. I underlined countless bits of information. It got a little repetitive and wandering towards the end, but overall I'm thrilled with the introduction it gave me into modern Irish history and culture. I'm eager to learn more.
I won this book as part of a First Reads giveaway.

This is a great history of the Irish potato famine and how the history of Englands treatment of the Irish people over the years made it unlikely that any sensible action to end the famine would be taken.

Though the book can be a little repetitive at times, it gives a fresh perspective on this moment in history and the actions that led to it taking place. Definitely a book worth reading for those interested in history.
I think that this book shows us how England prevented much help to Ireland when they were in such a terrible plight. How could this famine occurred? Why wasn't more help given? Many people died and suffered through this time period in Ireland.

I received this book through the Goodreads Giveaway and it really brought to light how much the Irish people suffered.
This is an interesting view of the irish famine, which was a dark and atrocious period of the country's history. It is reasonably well written and in my opinion factual on whole, however I felt the arguments to be slightly unbalanced.
- This book was free as a Goodreads firstreads giveaway.
Good book that brings passion to a subject that is often discussed with mention of human suffering. However, it often reads like a polemical or political denouncement rather than a well reasoned book. Coogan fails to provide evidence to back up the claim that the Famine was genocide.
Greg Repice
This book is great... It explains how the British by just making a few seeming small decisions can doom a whole "country" of people.... But if it did not happen, America would not be the nation it is today. Great book if you are a history buff and are drawn to the period.
The book is well documented but reads like a text book. I did acquire a great deal of valuable information regarding the Irish famine of the 1840's however, I do not agree with the Author's premise that the English were guilty of genocide.
j chris
This book kept me interested, a little slow in places, but I like these kinds of books, and it picked up again, I like books that are a part of history, a good read, thank you goodreads for letting me win it.
Interesting, well researched, and well organized, The Famine Plot is both scholarly and accessible. Altogether, a comprehensive introduction to the the potato famine and its lasting effect on Ireland.
“The Almighty indeed sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine.” (John Mitchell)
I received this book via Goodreads and found it informative, scholarly yet easy to read.
Bonnie Carruth
A terrible disaster made worse by political and financial factors.

( Review under construction )
Mark Widman
A good history lesson on the potato famine.
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Timothy Patrick Coogan is an Irish historical writer, broadcaster and newspaper columnist. He served as editor of the Irish Press newspaper from 1968 to 1987. Today, he is best known for his popular and sometimes controversial books on aspects of modern Irish history, including The IRA, Ireland Since the Rising, On the Blanket, and biographies of Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera.
More about Tim Pat Coogan...
Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland The IRA The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeal 1966-1996 and the Search for Peace 1916: The Easter Rising Eamon de Valera: The man who was Ireland

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“John Mitchel’s famous declaration that God sent the blight but the English created the Famine.” 1 likes
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