Political incompetence, bureaucratic gridlock, outdated laws affecting current problems, eviction fears, deaths from pestilence and illness, fears about immigrants, protests, riots, looting, claims of hoaxes, and overblown crises about what’s happening. 

2020?  Nope!  It was Ireland in the 1840s when the potato famine swept through and claimed millions of lives, sending millions of emigrants away to seek a new life in other countries.  

Much like with The Great Mortality (about The Plague, also by this author) and The Great Influenza (about the 1918 flu pandemic), it amazes me how history repeats itself anytime a major epidemic or pandemic sweeps across countries or globally. 

It really shows, especially today, that leaders and those in charge have no clue what they are doing, and these books on these major historical events have made me come to one big conclusion: government is incompetent in times of crisis, no matter the decade.  The only difference between the 1400s, 1800s, early 1900s, and now is how quickly information (both true and false) can spread and cause panic or chaos.

Toward the end of the book – not a spoiler – John Kelly makes this observation as the potato famine seemed to be on the downslope, but rumors persisted: “There had been so much bad news for so long, people viewed good news as suspect.”  It’s interesting to see how these words about the tail end of a famine in 1847 still resonate today with all that’s going on.

This was a sobering look at another devastating time in world history.  A famine that led to mass migration, death, pestilence, and violence.  Like The Great Mortality and The Great Influenza, it gave me a better perspective on the events in our world today.

I highly recommend it!