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

The Famine Plot by Tim Pat Coogan
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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 gloves and strikes graples with the notion that while the origins of the blight were of the natural world, the extent to which the Irish people suffered was purely bureaucratic in nature.

Citing damning source after damning source, Coogan exposes the role of British Whig party leaders such as Lord John Russell, Charles Wood, and the notorious Charles Trevelyan - who also, it should be noted, played a significant role in the Highland Clearances - in restricting relief efforts and promoting brutal evictions. In his account, Coogan makes clear his opinion of these men and their agents and, based upon the wealth of documentary evidence he references, sheds a long-overdue light upon the capabilities of a government run by unconscionable officials.

The most frightening aspect of the book is the obvious parallels that are drawn between the British laissez-faire leaders of the 19th century and the current conservative mouthpieces clambering ever higher in American government. Coogan only briefly hints at the comparison, but the words of Trevelyan can be heard echoing in halls of Congress today.

"The Famine Plot" is an eye-opening, accessible account of the oft-ignored perspective of this well-known Irish tragedy.
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Reading Progress

September 1, 2013 – Shelved
September 1, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
January 4, 2014 – Started Reading
January 4, 2014 – Shelved as: irish-history
April 9, 2014 – Finished Reading

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