Books: Irish Air

FAMINE—Liam O'Flaherty—Random House. ($2.50).

In the summer of 1845, on an Irish air long heavy with the smell of dung heaps, peat bogs and the personal reek of an ill-kempt and poverty-ridden citizenry, a new and more awful odor arose. Sulphurous, acrid, "like the smell of foul water in a sewer," it came from the almost-ripened potato plants, lay so thick that in some places it was visible as a whitish cloud above them. Where it appeared, leaves turned first purplish-brown, then black; stems withered, so that they broke at the touch, oozing a...

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