Michelle Athy's Reviews > The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People

The Graves Are Walking by John     Kelly
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2018-books

1. I'm half Irish-American. This means that I've been hearing about the Potato Famine and the English and whatnot my entire life--and I'm a few generations removed from Ireland, so that really tells you something, I think. (Mostly that my family is still quite culturally Irish)

2. Despite knowing of the tragedy of the Famine, I hadn't really bothered to read anymore on it, though I have always been curious about what the hell my family were doing in Ireland during the Famine, since they didn't leave until sixty-odd years later.

These things combined with an episode of Victoria made me read this book. And by that, I mean that the Potato Famine episode of the PBS Masterpiece show Victoria pressed my ever-present "goddamned English" button in such a way that I needed to search for a history of the Famine and read it and absorb it because it's a part of my culture and though I still don't know the family history from that time, it's a part of my DNA--and no poncy, sugarcoated "let's make Victoria sympathetic" version was going to do it for me.

I learned so much reading this book--I knew the scale of the tragedy, but I hadn't known the origins of the Famine or the ins and outs of the inadequate government response to it. So many of the Irish were utterly dependent on the potato for nourishment because of economic and social policies that by 1845, when the blight first hit, it was clearly going to be a huge mess of hunger. The English scrabbled to import food (while exporting Irish-grown food at the same time), set up public works, tried to figure out workhouse reforms, but in a bumbling disorganized way--all while utterly looking down on the Irish.

If I could go back in time and smack someone, Trevelyan would be very high on the list.
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Reading Progress

February 9, 2018 – Shelved
February 9, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
March 17, 2018 – Started Reading
March 22, 2018 –
10.0%
March 30, 2018 –
20.0%
April 19, 2018 –
30.0%
April 23, 2018 –
42.0% "OH...I have a lot of feelings about the history contained in this book."
April 28, 2018 –
61.0%
April 28, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-books
April 28, 2018 – Finished Reading

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