Diarmaid Ferriter, Colm Toibin. Thomas Dunne Books, $23.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-312-30051-7
Between 1846 and 1849, the potato blight left some one million Irish citizens dead of starvation or disease; Booker Prize-nominated novelist Colm Toibin (The Blackwater Lightship) and historian Diarmaid Ferriter team up to reconsider the tragedy (was it the fault of the British?) in The Irish Famine: A Documentary. Toibin pens a historiography that acknowledges ""no narrative now seems capable of combining the sheer scale of the tragedy..., the complex society which surrounded it and the high politics which governed it,"" while Ferriter compiles a wide range of documents, including letters, newspaper articles and relief commission reports, to offer a scholarly look at the days of (in the words of a parish priest) ""calamity"" and ""universal doom.""
Reviewed on: 07/01/2002