The Great Hunger is the definitive account of one of the worst disasters in world history: the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. Within five years, one million people died of starvation. Emigrants by the hundreds of thousands sailed for America and Canada in small, ill-equipped, dangerously unsanitary ships. Some ships never arrived; those that did carried passengers already infected with and often dying of typhus. The Irish who managed to reach the United States alive had little or no money and were often too weak to work. They crowded into dirty cellars, begged, and took whatever employment they could get. Epidemics, riots, and chaos followed in their wake. The Great Hunger is a heartbreaking story of suffering, insensitivity, and blundering stupidity; yet it is also an epic tale of courage, dignity, and--despite all odds--a hardly supportable optimism.