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BOOKS - The Famine Ships, The Irish Exodus to America
By Edward Laxton
Published by Henry Holt,New York, 1998

Softcover... 29.95 (C$)

Between 1846 and 1851, more than one-million people -- the potato famine emigrants -- sailed from Ireland to America. Now, 150 years later, The Famine Ships tells of the courage and determination of those who crossed the Atlantic in leaky, overcrowded sailing ships and made new lives for themselves, among them the child Henry Ford and the twenty-six-year-old Patrick Kennedy, great-grandfather of John F. Kennedy.

Often through the words of the passengers themselves, this book documents the frequently tragic story of the mass of people forced to emigrate from Ireland during the potato famine of 1846-1851. The famine was the defining event in modern Irish history; more than a million people died of starvation and disease and another million left their homeland, traveling from all parts of Ireland to board ships bound for the United States and Canada. Sailing under conditions that were rarely monitored, many were denied the food and water promised with the price of their ticket; many succumbed to disease; and those who survived faced a bittersweet aftermath as unwelcome immigrants in America.

The Famine Sbips tells a story of courage and determination that is an incredible chapter in North American immigrant history and a crucial moment in the Irish-American experience.

Edward Laxton conducted five years of research in Ireland and interviewed the emigrants' descents in the U.S. Portraits of people, ships, and towns, as well as facsimile passenger lists and tickets, are among the fascinating memorabilia in The Famine Ships.

  • "A splendid book, written in a fresh and accessible way, which will grip anyone with the most superficial interest in the Famine years." - Irish Times
  • "Fascinating . . . finally draws attention to the people and the ships that defined a moment in Irish and American history." - Library Journal
  • "If you are interested in the Famine years in Ireland, or your Irish genealogy, this is a great book to get you started. There are some passenger lists, but just a handful. Great explanation of the famine... in Ireland, ports of embarkation and ports where immigrants landed in the US. Very interesting story of the famine." - Donna Goodreads
  • "An interesting series of vignettes about the individual voyages, the captains, the ships, the shipwrecks and the families ... A useful and attractive introduction to one of the truly portentous events of modern history." - Charles R. Morris, Los Angeles Times
  • "Persons of all ethnic backgrounds-Irish and non-Irish alike-will find this book engaging if not always pleasant to read. Maritime enthusiasts will find it to be yet another gripping account of mid-nineteenth-century life on the waters of the often inhospitable North Atlantic." - James M . Morris, Daily Press (Newport News)
  • "This is a splendid book, written in a fresh and accessible way. which will grip anyone with the most superficial interest in the Famine years .... While not avoiding the narratives of the most famous emigrants in these years (Henry Ford's father from Cork and President J . F. Kennedy's great-grandfather from Wexford) he concentrates on lesser-known stories: a good example is the Wexford parish priest who led eighteen families across the Atlantic to New Orleans and then up the Mississippi to found the town of Wexford, Iowa." - Frank McLynn. Tbe Irish Times
  • "A fascinating compilation . .. This well-written supplement to the various works on the Irish famine exodus finally draws attention to the people and the ships that defined a moment in Iri~h and American history." - Library Journal
About the author:
  • Edward Laxton is of Irish descent. He was the news editor of England's Daily Express and Daily Mirror for nearly thirty years. This is his second book. He lives in England.
Pages: 256
Size: 6" w X 9"
Published by Henry Holt,New York, 1998
ISBN: 978-0-8050-5844-4

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