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The Graves Are Walking; The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People

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A magisterial account of the worst disasters to strike humankind—the Great Irish Potato Famine—conveyed as lyrical narrative history from the acclaimed author of The Great MortalityDeeply researched, compelling in its details, and startling in its conclusions about the appalling decisions behind a tragedy of epic proportions, John Kelly’s retelling of the awful story of Ireland’s great hunger will resonate today as history that speaks to our own times.It started in 1845 and before it was over more than one million men, women, and children would die and another two million would flee the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was the worst disasters in the nineteenth century—it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War. A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political greed, and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe. But even more extraordinary than its scope were its political underpinnings, and The Graves Are Walking provides fresh material and analysis on the role that Britain’s nation-building policies played in exacerbating the devastation by attempting to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character. Religious dogma, anti-relief sentiment, and racial and political ideology combined to result in an almost inconceivable disaster of human suffering. This is ultimately a story of triumph over perceived destiny: for fifty million Americans of Irish heritage, the saga of a broken people fleeing crushing starvation and remaking themselves in a new land is an inspiring story of revival. Based on extensive research and written with novelistic flair, The Graves Are Walking draws a portrait that is both intimate and panoramic, that captures the drama of individual lives caught up in an unimaginable tragedy, while imparting a new understanding of the famine's causes and consequences. 
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  Henry Holt and Company, LLC Publishers since 1866  175 Fifh AvenueNew York, New York 10010 www .henryholt .com Henry Holt® and ® are registered trademarks o Henry Holt and Company, LLC.Copyright © 2012 by John Kelly All rights reserved.Library o Congress Cataloging- in- Publication DataKelly, John, 1945– Te graves are walking : the great amine and the saga o the Irish people / John Kelly.—1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical reerences and index. ISBN 978-0-8050-9184-7 1. Ireland—History—Famine, 1845–1852. 2. Irish—Migrations—History—19th century. 3. Ireland—Emigration and immigration—History—19th century. 4. Famines—Ireland—History—19th century. I. itle.II. itle: Great amine and the saga o the Irish people. DA950.7.K45 2012 941.5081—dc23 2012011493Henry Holt books are available or special promotions and premiums.For details contact: Director, Special Markets.First Edition 2012Designed by Meryl Sussman LevaviPrinted in the United States o America1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2   _________  _________  L ate on a September afernoon in 1845, when the sky was low and the wind close, a horse man with a rooster’s plume o red hair and an indefinable air o En glishness about him stood on a road in Donegal, surveying the empty landscape. Near Lough Derg, the rider had passed two dirty peasant children selling “rudely carved wooden crucifixes” and a peeling window poster proclaiming “the Sacred beauty o Jesus,” and near Ballyshannon, a knot o hal clad, shoeless peasant women lifing panniers o tur onto the back o an ancient ass. Ten, the wind died, the ubiquitous castle ruins— palimpsests o conquest and loss—  vanished rom the landscape and the rider passed rom human to geological time. Savage rock and cold mountain surrounded him now, and the only sound to be heard in the perect stillness o the afernoon was the gravel crunching under the weight o his horse.Out over the Atlantic, silos o angry black storm clouds were billow-ing skyward over a white-capped sea. By the time the rider arrived in Gweedore, it would be raining again. Even or Ireland, the weather had been unusually mutinous o late. “Heat, rain, cold and sunshine succeed each other at a conusing rate,” the Dublin Eve ning Post   had complained the other day. “Monday last was extremely wet, uesday was beauti-ully dry; yesterday . . . both wet and dry, and to- day again is equally CHAPTER ONE  The Savage Shore:  Three En glishmen in Ireland  6  |  The GRAVES ARE WALKING  variable.” During harvest season, the weather was always a major preoc-cupation in Ireland, but this season the news rom Eu rope had made the preoccupation all- consuming. In June, a mysterious potato disease had appeared in Flanders; by the end o July, scarcely a sound potato was lef between Silesia and Normandy; then, in early August, the Channel Islands and En gland were inected. Now there were rumors that the disease had appeared here.In a country where two thirds o the population lived by the aphorism

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