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The Great Shame: And The Triumph Of The Irish In The English -Speaking World

By Thomas Keneally
Book Details
  • Author: Thomas Keneally
  • Edition: 1
In the nineteenth century, Ireland lost 50 percent of its population. "The Great Shame", an astonishing work of nonfiction based on a quest not unlike Thomas Keneally's previous search for the true story of Oskar Schindler, traces the three causes of this depletion: the famine, the emigrations, and the transportations to Australia. Based on unique research among little-used sources, this masterly book surveys eighty years of Irish history through the eyes of political prisoners -- some of them Keneally's ancestors who served time as convicts in Australia.We meet William Smith O'Brien, leader of an uprising at the height of the Irish Famine, who rose from solitary confinement in Australia to become the Mandela of his age; Thomas Francis Meagher, whose escape from Australian captivity led to a glittering American career as an orator, a Union general, and governor of Montana; and John Mitchel, who became a Confederate newspaper reporter, gave two of his sons to the Southern cause, was imprisoned with Jefferson Davis -- and returned to Ireland to become mayor of Tipperary.Through many such lives, famous and obscure, we become immersed in the Irish experience and the astonishing history of the Irish diaspora, spanning the globe from Canada, to the United States, to the bush towns of Australia. All are vividly portrayed in this extraordinary tale of the tragedies and triumphs of the Irish, who came to exert enormous influence in the English-speaking world.