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The Broken Boy

The Broken Boy [Kindle Edition]

Patrick Cockburn
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Cockburn’s account is both sad and entertaining, and altogether evocative of a vanished Ireland' -- Jeremy Lewis, Sunday Times

'Patrick Cockburn has pulled off something remarkable.' -- The Observer

'This is a gentle, uncomplaining story written with affection and insight' -- Maeve Binchy, Mail on Sunday

'an often perceptive, constantly genre defying gem' -- Tom Adair, Scotland on Sunday

'charming, interesting and moving by turn' -- Anthony Daniels, Sunday Telegraph

'he pace is always expert and what at first glance might seem a grim memoir is never less than entertaining' -- Irish Review of Books

'replete with historical interest, boasts rich family portraits and exudes considerable charm' -- Michael Arditti, Daily Mail

This is a gentle, uncomplaining story written with affection and insight. -- Maeve Binchy in The Mail on Sunday, 14 August 2005

This memoir, like his journalism from the Middle East and elsewhere, is that of an unbroken man. -- Cal McCrystal in The Independent on Sunday, 14 August 2005

Book Description

A memoir about the last great polio epidemic, by an author who was one of its victims.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 381 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (31 Aug 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00407125G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #614,889 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A family history tale 23 Sep 2012
By Ann
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've only read half this book and am struggling to keep going. I thought it would be about the boy with polio but so far most of it is about the author's family going back to the 1800s. It's fairly tedious and hard going. I read this author's other book written with his son and found it excellent so this is a bit of a disappointment.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To enjoy this book, one has to have been born in the era when Polio was just as much feared as are modern illnesses... Like the guy in the book I was hit by this illness when a child.... it's not a happy story nor is it meant to be. (I won't include a 'spoiler' in this review....) but enough to say that some memories are hard to revisit!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Polio in Cork 3 Dec 2006
By A reader - Published on
The author, who contracted polio at age six, was one of many victims of the polio epidemic in Cork,
Ireland. Over 50,000 got the virus in 1956, "one of the last great outbreaks of
polio anywhere in Western Europe." An outbreak that occurred just a few years
after a vaccine had been developed in America.

The book is interesting when it describes the way that the community denied
and downplayed the effects of epidemic. Newspapers, then still the main source
of information in Ireland, never named polio victims and only published, more or
less uncritically, official reports on the epidemic. This, and apparently, the
desire of the business community to maintain economic stability in the
community, created an environment of incoherent hysteria where children
were kept home from school and public swimming pools closed, but pubs
remained opened.

Patrick Cockburn, a distinguished international news correspondent, was
gravely affected by the disease. Today, he walks with a limp, cannot run or
drive a car. He tells quite a bit of his days in hospital and feelings at the time.

He seems, though, a bit reticent about it at times, because it was so long ago and also
perhaps because of a resentment at his parents moving house to Cork, despite
warnings about the epidemic.

His parents were Claud and Patricia Cockburn. His father was a leftist writer
and his mother a daughter of Anglo-Irish upper-class parents. Both were
adventurous and neither were accustomed to changing their plans if risks were
involved. Much of the book, perhaps too much, is written about his parents and
their background. For those readers of Alexander Cockburn, Patrick's brother,
this family background is very familiar ground.

Well-written and interesting in places, this is a slight contribution to the
literature on diseases and epidemics. Cockburn laments the lack of information
on polio epidemic in Cork, so perhaps this is spadework for another, larger
book. For those who are interested in epidemics in general, Cockburn points to
a classic account, Journal of a Plague Year by Daniel Defoe.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polio 18 Jan 2007
By T. Porges - Published on
I had polio, about the same in immediate and long-term effect as Cockburn, at about the same time. The reason for the reticence the earlier reviewer notes is that at that time we were all bombarded by images of kids in iron lungs, and by encouraging stories about other little boys and girls who'd had polio or other crippling diseases and accidents (the miler Glenn Cunningham was a teacher favorite) and who'd gone on to greatness of one kind or another.

Part of that message was that if we weren't going to be cheerful overachievers we should at least have the grace to shut up about it, since so many others (the coffin kids) had it so much worse. To be a polio survivor is to know absolutely that whatever you may think you deserve, there's another kid in the ward who deserves much more; however great you think you are there's another kid who's better. It screws me up at job interviews but otherwise makes me a better person than I might otherwise be -- though not, as noted, as good as Patrick Cockburn, most likely.

This is a good book. A nice comparison read would be Wilfrid Sheed's _People Will Always Be Kind_.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Cork Polio Epedimic 28 Jan 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written, great insight into Cork and Ireland of the 50's.
Good explanation of the nature and spread of polio and the issues around the development and roll-out of the vaccine.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks for the story. Very enlightening! 28 Aug 2014
By Eigil Møller - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was a kind of revelation to me. I am affected by the polio disease just like mr. Cockburn and am about the same age. I got the disease when I was about one year old (the Copenhagen 1952 epidemic), so my memories are at some points different from the author here, but apart from that, there are many similarities and shared experiences. So it was an eyeopener for me. Just as mr. Cockburn, I have tried for most of my life just to ignore and put the experience behind me, and tried to live a normal life and forget about all the 'cripple'-stuff. But of course the truth is sneaking up on you, and - as he writes - there always is that awareness, that you're different and so on. So, better confront it!

I've avoided memories and historical accounts until now (for the above reasons) but found it very enlightening to read Cockburns very well researched tale of the Cork epidemy. I got a lot of answers to questions I never asked, and it feels good to get some explanations and to know, that there's a bunch out there with similar experiences.

On top of that, we learn about the VERY interesting family of Cockburn (at least half of the book: all the middle chapters) and their life as anglo-irish AND as radical forces in their day. For me it was very entertaining and enlightening to read about that stuff. Fascinating and important lifes. Patrick Cockburn is a journalist, that I hold in very high regard, and who writes so absolutely brillant (understated and factual, but none the less extremely subversive), with great analytic skill and with the 'reality-base', his sources,100 per cent in place. So, it was an unexpected bonus (from reading his recent, brillant ISIS-publication) that I found out about this book concerning our shared history - and the family and social history behind it. Thanks for the story!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broken Boy 9 Sep 2012
By Síle - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Delighted to receive almost-new copy of The Broken Boy. Pity the posting brings the cost up from $0.08 to about EURO16 but still glad to have it.
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