In The Great Shame, Thomas Keneally--the bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Schindler's List--combines the authority of a brilliant historian and the narrative grace of a great novelist to present a gripping account of the Irish diaspora. The nineteenth century saw Ireland lose half of its population to famine, emigration, or deportation to penal colonies in Australia--often for infractions as common as stealing food. Among the victims of this tragedy were Thomas Keneally's own forebearers, and they were his inspiration to tell the story of the Irish who struggled and ultimately triumphed in Australia and North America. Relying on rare primary sources--including personal letters, court transcripts, ship manifests, and military documents--Keneally offers new and important insights into the impact of the Irish in exile. The result is a vivid saga of heroes and villains, from Great Famine protesters to American Civil War generals to great orators and politicians.