The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World

Keneally, Thomas

Published by Anchor, 2000
ISBN 10: 0385720262 / ISBN 13: 9780385720267
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Synopsis: In The Great Shame, Thomas Keneally--the bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Schindler's List--combines the authority of a brilliant historian and the narrative grace of a great novelist to present a gripping account of the Irish diaspora.

The nineteenth century saw Ireland lose half of its population to famine, emigration, or deportation to penal colonies in Australia--often for infractions as common as stealing food. Among the victims of this tragedy were Thomas Keneally's own forebearers, and they were his inspiration to tell the story of the Irish who struggled and ultimately triumphed in Australia and North America. Relying on rare primary sources--including personal letters, court transcripts, ship manifests, and military documents--Keneally offers new and important insights into the impact of the Irish in exile. The result is a vivid saga of heroes and villains, from Great Famine protesters to American Civil War generals to great orators and politicians.

Review: The Booker Prize-winning Schindler's List (on which Steven Spielberg based his Oscar-winning film) demonstrated that Thomas Keneally could make history as compelling as any novel. His latest book, The Great Shame, expands upon the achievement of his earlier fiction. This is more than just the story of the Keneally family tree, transported from Ireland to Australia in the 19th-century. It is the story of how Irish men and women came to be dispersed all over the world, and what they made of their lives in their new homes. It is the epic history of a whole people.

The Great Shame is hypnotically readable, partly because Keneally weaves his many narrative strands so expertly and touches his story with many moments of beautiful writing, but also because it is all, even at its most extraordinary, completely true. The result is astonishingly vivid. What The Great Shame most resembles is a classic 19th-century novel: Dickens, say, or George Eliot. Readers avidly follow Keneally's characters through their successes and their trials, until the very last sentence in the book when, like a master from the classic age of the novel, Keneally pays tribute to "the piquant blood and potent ghosts of the characters to whom we now bid goodbye." --Adam Roberts

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Title: The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the ...
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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