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

The Famine Plot by Tim Pat Coogan
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really liked it
bookshelves: history, victorian-edwardian, british-isles

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 introduced to the finer details of nineteenth-century British politics (i.e., the Corn Laws) upon which his argument hinges, but his writing is concise and engaging; his evidence, plentiful and convincing.

This may not be the end-all, be-all study of the Great Famine, but it is more than a little thought-provoking (to say nothing of how horror-struck I was upon finishing it). To those complaining of the “dryness” or dullness of Coogan’s prose, consider that this is a professional historian writing a historical monograph. If it seems dry or technical to you, it is not a fault of his, or of his remarkable book’s.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
August 25, 2013 – Shelved
December 27, 2013 – Shelved as: history
May 12, 2015 – Shelved as: victorian-edwardian
May 12, 2015 – Shelved as: british-isles

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Simon Wood An excellent and very readable historical survey of Ireland & Irish Nationalism (covering the period 1798-1924) would be Robert Kees "The Green Flag"


Louis Johnson If you are looking for a pretty exhaustive historical survey of the Irish famine, THE GREAT HUNGER by Cecil Woodham-Smith is a must-read. It can be difficult reading because in her (yes, Cecil was a woman) desire to be thorough she threw out names and dates at what seemed a machine-gun pace. It should be noted that although Woodham-Smith was British, she made no attempt to gloss over the culpability of the British government in general and Charles Trevelyan in particular in the needless (and even cruel) worsening of a bad situation.

In any case, thank you for a great review of THE FAMINE PLOT. I've added it to my "to read" list and look forward to digging into it.


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