The Famine Ships: The Irish Exodus to America
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The Famine Ships: The Irish Exodus to America

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Between 1846 and 1851, more than one-million people--the potato famine emigrants--sailed from Ireland to America. Now, 150 years later, The Famine Ships tells of the courage and determination of those who crossed the Atlantic in leaky, overcrowded sailing ships and made new lives for themselves, among them the child Henry Ford and the twenty-six-year-old Patrick Kennedy, g...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 15th 1998 by Holt Paperbacks (first published March 28th 1997)
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This isn't a book you sit down and get cozy with. It's a sad account of the horrific things that occured during the Irish Famine (or starvation, as the author points out). The things that people are willing to endure in order to escape hardship is almost as appalling as the things people are willing to do to those who are suffering those hardships.
Cheryl Gatling
"There were no easy voyages for the Irish. The sea was a stranger to them, the ships were alien and, if America seemed like a dream, the Atlantic passage was all too often a nightmare." That's the short version. The rest of the book details all the things that could, and did, go wrong. In the peak years of the famine, people were so desperate to escape Ireland that any ship, whether small, old, or designed for cargo, was pressed into service, and ships sailed year round, even in the storms of wi...more
Written in the narrative rather than scholarly style, this book is a quick read. The first part of the book concentrates on the reasons why so many left Ireland. The exodus from Ireland had started much earlier than the imposed famine. The Irish had become tenants in their own land due to policies of the English. Catholics were forbidden to own land and those Irish that owned land had to divide it amongst all their progeny. In order to survive the Irish grew potatoes on small plots but when the...more
I enjoyed this book for its stories of the flight of Irish citizens to the US and other ports during the Famine years. It shed some light as to why my g-grandfather, although he traveled after this time, might not have wanted to talk about his life prior to his arrival in this country.
Historicall narrative of the plight of Irish immigrants who left their family and beatiful country behind because of Irish oppression. Must read.

Merged review:

Historical narrative of the tragic circumstances that lead more than one million Irish to immigrate to America because of British oppression. Paints a stark picture that should make all long for a much overdue acknowledgement and apology from England to the Irish people.
This is a nice comprehensive look at the famine. Each chapter covers a different aspect of the journey's in the ships - what happened to them in Canada, why they chose Canada and the British taxes/politics that forced them to go to Canada. So, short chapters all with tidbits of anecdotes, statistics, and historical context make for an easy and informative read.
If you are interested in the Famine years in Ireland, or your Irish genealogy, this is a great book to get you started. There are some passenger lists, but just a handful. Great explanation of the famine (what famine?) in Ireland, ports of embarkation and ports where immigrants landed in the US. Very interesting story of the famine.
Titanic Buff
This is a superb read. Laxton, and typos can be overlooked in view of the content, has done a grand job researching the famine ships. This book is written rather well and contains relevant documents. He also includes accounts of those who were involved with the 'famine ships' (i.e. passengers, crew, survivors, victims).
Oh, the tragedies of the Irish Famine years...
Much of this book covers the horrible conditions and perilous journeys of the emigrant ships. There is also some interesting info of life in famine Ireland, and after arrival in North America.
Very sad, like a genetic-memory punch in the gut.
My son's fourth grade class was studying the Irish potato famine and I realized I didn't know much about it. The history of how this huge tragedy came about is pretty interesting and a good lesson. It had far reaching effects both in terms of time and people.
I happened upon this book while roaming the outer reaches of the library with my daughter. Though the book wasn't very well written, I enjoyed reading about an era I didn't know much about. Now I know that I am glad I didn't live in Ireland during the potato famine.
Good reference guide to tracing some of the people who left Ireland to come to North America. Some of the stories will leave you madder than hell and yet others will make you weep. Passenger lists there as well. Good tool for geneology.
Apr 16, 2008 Robin marked it as to-read
My great-grandfather came to the US just before the official date of the start of the famine. I want to read the book to understand the state of the country before the famine... Do you think this book will enlighten me, Susie?
This was an interesting viewpoint of the Irish famine and the ships that took emigrants to America and Canada. I was particularly interested in why Canada, because when tracing our Irish roots, our ancestors had come that route.
Ariel Caldwell
Doing some research for the NaNoWriMo novel I'm writing... this was a great overview and introduction. It wasn't dry and obviously made an effort to make the statistics personal.
Skip this one. It's badly organized, chapters go in circles and many of the stories seem repetitive. A good editor could have saved this book.
Great history of the FAMINE SHIPS that the immigrants took during the potato famine. . . gruesome conditions!
Historical book full of mind-numbing facts & redundancy.
Charles Bell
Interesting history.
Special interest - good.
So far, so good.
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