The Broken Boy

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A memoir about the last great polio epidemic, by an author who was one its victims.

The Broken Boy, Patrick Cockburn

It is very easy to get polio. Patrick Cockburn was six when he woke up one day in the summer of 1956 with a headache and a sore throat. His parents, Claud and Patricia Cockburn, had recently returned to Ireland, to their house in East Cork, careless of the fact that a polio epidemic had broken out in Cork City. He caught the disease and was taken to the fever hospital. The virus attacks the nerves of the brain and the spinal cord leading to paralysis of the muscles. Patrick could no longer walk. The Broken Boy is at once a memoir of Patrick Cockburn's own experience of polio, a portrait of his parents, both prominent radicals, and the story of the Cork epidemic, the last great polio epidemic in the world.

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $24.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780099459231
    Published: 15/06/2006
    Imprint: Vintage
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9781409018599
    Published: 01/12/2010
    Imprint: Vintage Digital
    Extent: 320 pages
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"Engrossing... an often perceptive genre-defying gem...engaging and entertaining" - Tom Adair, Scotland on Sunday

"'This is wonderful writing...Brilliant...Cockburn has pulled off something remarkable'" - Observer

"'Sad and entertaining, and altogether evocative of a vanished Ireland'" - Jeremy Lewis, Sunday Times

"'This is a gentle, uncomplaining story written with affection and insight.'" - Maeve Binchy, Mail on Sunday

"'Engaging and witty...Oddly uplifting'" - Guardian

"Charming, interesting and moving by turn" - Anthony Daniels, Sunday Telegraph