The Great Hunger is the story 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. Most emigrant ships were small, ill-equipped, dangerously unsanitary, and often unseaworthy. 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 dark, dirty cellars; begged in the streets; and took whatever employment they could get at wages which no American would accept. Epidemics, riots and chaos followed in their wake, so that Irish immigrants came to be regarded as a danger to the health of the community and a burden on society. The Great Hunger is a heartbreaking story of suffering, insensitivity, and blundering stupidity; yet it is also an epic tale of courage, dignity anddespite all oddsa hardly supportable optimism.