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The Boston Globe


Book Review

‘The Famine Plot’ by Tim Pat Coogan

In the famine years of 1845-52, Ireland lost a quarter of its population. An estimated 1  million people died of hunger and disease, while another million immigrated to places like Boston, New York, and Liverpool.

In “The Famine Plot,’’ renowned Irish journalist and historian Tim Pat Coogan (“Michael Collins”) argues that these 2 million did not suffer simply because of a natural disaster, but because of a policy of not-so-benign neglect by England, which then governed the island nation. Coogan, who notes that Irish historians traditionally have been reluctant to explore England’s role in the tragedy, lays blame for much of the suffering at the feet of England’s half-hearted relief efforts, which were managed by a government official named Charles Trevelyan.

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