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The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World
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The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  314 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The Booker Prize-winning author of "Schindler's List" combines the authority of a brilliant historian and the narrative grace of a great novelist to present a gripping account of the Irish diaspora. A "New York Times" Notable Book. 82 photos & 3 maps.
Paperback, 768 pages
Published September 12th 2000 by Anchor Books (first published April 9th 1997)
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Owen
The story of what happened to the Irish political prisoners known as the Young Irelanders and the Fenians, in the 1850s and 60s, is expertly told by Australian writer Thomas Keneally in "The Great Shame." Sticking firmly to documented history, about the only thing Keneally leaves out is the nastier side of Fenianism, with its secret vendettas and occasional underlying brutality. But that all lies in the misty past, and Keneally has done a first-rate job of bringing much of this truculent history ...more
Nancy
It seems almost unimaginable that something as small as a spore could bring a nation to its knees and change the face of two continents, but that is exactly what happened after the potato famine in Ireland in the 1800s.
The potato was the mainstay of Irish tenants, who were evicted by English landlords when they couldn't pay their rents. The potato, the cash crop and their personal dietary mainstay, had rotted in the fields year after year.

As the Irish starved, grains and edible foods grown in
...more
Lisa Houlihan
May 07, 2013 Lisa Houlihan marked it as to-read
I did not think much of the writing in Schindler's List, which I recently read, and here I found that the style was not due to Keneally being cajoled into writing that book but that it really is his own. He drops the "and" from a series of three when the conjunction would clarify and he uses fragments without intention. Not like this. Where they do not add to his point. But detract.

Plus I just finished Governess about miserable C19 people so maybe I should take a break from miserable C19 people
...more
Melissa
It reads a bit like a textbook, but if you're looking for an in-depth account of the Irish diaspora of the 19th century, look no further. Keneally spends a great deal of time talking about Australia, as that's where his Irish ancestors ended up, and I found it interesting, as I knew nothing about the Irish in Australia. He also made a careful note of the Irish involvement in the American Civil War. Unfortunately, due to school constraints, I never finished it, but I hope to pick it up and finish ...more
Colleen
Ok - I didn't finish this book. It started out great. The guy is a gifted writer and he wove together more personal stories and political goings on very well. But, alas, he got terribly bogged down in the irish exile to Australia of the many key political figures during the mid 19th century. Nothing happened at that time! So, you don't have to convey real time with page after page of "nothing happened". I may come back to this one...
John Fanning
Great stories. From the same guy who did Schindler's List - ironically he's Irish-Australian.

The stuff on John Boyle O'Reilly and Thomas Francis Meagher was amazing (the latter: from Irish revolutionary, to Australian convict, to celebrated General for the Union forces in the Civil War, and finally to an acting governor in the Mid-West.)
Elizabeth
Thomas Keneally is one of those rare authors who writes magnificent fiction and history. This history is the story of the 19th century diaspora of the Irish. It is a well-known history, but Keneally focuses on certain individuals as they travel from Ireland to Australia and the United States. Some are sent as criminals--either political or of actual crimes (some staggeringly small)--to Australia. Once they have served their time, they can achieve success down under--or find their way to America ...more
Adam Szczepanski
I love these kinds of books, but The Great Shame became just too tedious for me. I only finished about a quarter, and I hope to revisit in the future. Keneally absolutely did his research and writes with authority, but in my eyes, this is also The Great Downfall of a potentially great book.
Elizabeth Quinn
I very much wanted to love this book because I hoped it would be what Keneally describes in his preface as his hope as well: an Irish version of his masterwork, Schindler's List, focusing on the 19th century diaspora of the Irish to Australia and the Americas. But in Schindler, Keneally went micro -- telling the story of the Holocaust through the life of one man the 1,300 men, women, and children he rescued from the gas chamber -- while in Shame, Keneally goes macro -- telling a century's worth ...more
Ryan
My goal with reading this book was to provide some historical "roadmap" so I could more fully enjoy the last of Macken's Irish Trilogy. I would say it met that goal and much, much more. Keneally starts with his family history - both he and his wife are descendants of Irish men, transported to Australia. The book starts with Hugh Larkin, his crime and his transport to Australia. There is a wealth of detail about what the experience may have been like. Woven into Larkin's history are the biographi ...more
Maureen
Wow! This is an amazing book. The fact that it was able to keep my attention for 600 pages of very detailed and meaty writing says a lot. It was not an easy read. I had to pay close attention to what I was reading and often had to reread passages several times. But it was all worth it.

The author tells the history of the Irish prisoners who were "transported" to the British penal colony in Australia in the mid 19th century. He focuses on the political prisoners who were fighting for the freedom
...more
Roy White
Some truly improbable connections in the fates of various Irish exiles. Here is my take:
http://lippenheimer.wordpress.com/201...
Dan Panneton
Absolutely terrible, exploitative garbage. This work is the kind of history that inspires the naive to donate to the IRA.
Kaye
A little hard to make it through because I kept putting it down to look up people and events from history. SO interesting.
Elizabeth
Very readable and good so far about 1830s Ireland, a time period I know very little about. Keneally is so good at making history readable and you can't put it down when reading about Irish people sent on prison ships to Australia for stealing food when starving. The descriptions of life in Ireland and in Australia are both so good and vivid. I think it's going to be about emigration to America too and more about Ireland but at the beginning it is about convicts settling Australia. Fascinating be ...more
Robert Davidson
this is a massive book which i read about ten years ago and had to have a copy because there are so many stories of different people and historical periods. from such a small island it is amazing how many emigrated to different parts of the world and most succeeded in finding a better place. as a young boy growing up in ireland we were not taught real irish history in school so there was a void in trying to understand the historical perspective of daily life there. mr. keneally and other authors ...more
Carla Speed
Written both as family history and political history, Keneally's THE GREAT SHAME describes Irish politics during the time of the potato blight and the transportation of his forebears to Australia. We moderns treasure our mobility, and to a degree the anonymity it creates by partly severing our roots. Our heritage is still there; this is a small part of the history of recent human migration, but, like all history, it's better not to push it under the rug.
Holly
This book does a great job of bringing Irish history alive. From the Famine through Britain's use of deportation to manage political prisoners and up to World War I, Keneally discusses Irish history in a very even-handed manner. The language is occasionally obtuse and hard to follow, but historical figures are memorably described and movements like Fenianism are well-researched.
Heather Spaeth
I picked up a few years ago because I was planning on going to Australia and I was interested in the transportations of the Irish to Australia. What I got was so much more. These seven men influenced history not only in Australia but the North of the US, the South of the US, Central America and, of course, Ireland. It was long and very detailed, but very interesting.
Rashers Tierney
Perhaps the most influential and widely-read contemporary account of The Great Famine. Provides an unparalleled account of the widespread after-effects of Black '47--both in Ireland and throughout the far-flung Irish diaspora.
Pete Mackey
A tale told with breadth, sweep and poignancy, in unforgettable stories made more forceful by their truth, this book is a wonderful look by a historian with a novelist's eye into the people, gravity and consequences of the British-Irish conflict, the famine, and the changes the Irish diaspora wrought for America, Australia, Ireland and England.
Keith
It seems I am getting into the habit of reading hefty tomes. I wanted to read a book about my roots - Ireland. Just getting started...more on this book later.

Very engaging history shown through the perils and separation of an Irish family. Learning much!
Crystal
After reading Angelas Ashes I attempted to read this . It took me a long time to get through it but is well worth the time. I love anything about Ireland/Scotland and this is a wonderful about the famine & oppression "our" ancestors endured.
Maureen
vast, did I say VAST, compendium of the irish diaspora, with stress on that which headed to australia, but pretty much a solid reference work on the diaspora as a whole.. too encyclopedic to be a "good tead" though many highly readble segments.
Linda N
This book covers an incredible amount of modern irish history and really explains the impact of the exodus of the Irish to America and Australia.
Elaine
Fascinating well researched history.
Al
Sep 16, 2011 Al added it
I read this book when it first came out, late 90s. It wasn't an easy read, but completely compelling. Should re-read some day.
Bill
Jan 11, 2009 Bill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: irish
Interesting stories. Irish-Americans will recognize a lot in the experiences of Keneally's Irish-Australians.
Betsy
A through write up of the early Irish revolutionaries. Gets vey detailed at time and is rather long.
Thom Diggins
As an "Irish-American" I am appalled by the cruelty, oppression and exploitation of the Irish by the British.
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Thomas Michael Keneally, AO (born 7 October 1935) is an Australian novelist, playwright and author of non-fiction. He is best known for writing Schindler's Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel of 1982, which was inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor. The book would later be adapted to Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), which won the Academy Award for Best Pict ...more
More about Thomas Keneally...
Schindler's List The Daughters of Mars The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia Searching for Schindler: A Memoir

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