They say, 'history is written with the bias of the historian', so where do you start in this very emotive and painful subject? In the opening chapters James Donnelly explains the different interpretations of this tragic event by Nationalist, Revisionist and British historians, indeed he also ends with it. So from the off, you know you're in for a difficult time. He quotes many anti-British writers and apologists who give a damming verdict against the British Government under both Peel and Russell. Included in the anti-British accounts are, The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845 1849
, (Cecil Woodham-Smith) and The Last Conquest of Ireland
, (John Mitchel) vs Revistionist (favourable to the British and protestant views - although debatable?), are Moody, Edwards and The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History, 1845-1852
, (Edwards & Williams). So you see the difficulty - I read this as a introduction into a period in history in which my great-grandparents suffered along with the one million who died through starvation and disease and the 2.1 million evicted, exploited and dispersed. He covers all the salient points with statistics, charts and illustrations. The infamous 'Phytophthora infestans', 'Grosse Île, 'the coffin ships', and 'Skibbereen' are also covered. I think it's advisable to have a wider understanding of Irish History before reading this book as some of the people and events he refers to aren't given an introduction in the book. This may be of some help, The Story of Ireland [DVD
]. Finally, is this a balanced account? I think it's a good place to start.