All Standing

The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, The Legendary Irish Famine Ship

By Kathryn Miles
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9781451610130, 256pp.)

Publication Date: January 8, 2013

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Description

All Standing The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, the Legendary Irish Famine Ship recounts the journeys of this famous ship, her heroic crew, and the immigrants who were ferried between Ireland and North America. Spurred by a complex web of motivations—shame, familial obligation, and sometimes even greed—more than a million people attempted to flee the Irish famine. More than one hundred thousand of them would die aboard one of the five thousand aptly named “coffin ships.” But in the face of horrific losses, a small ship named the Jeanie Johnston never lost a passenger. Shipwright John Munn, community leader Nicholas Donovan, Captain James Attridge, Dr. Richard Blennerhassett, and the efforts of a remarkable crew allowed thousands of people to find safety and fortune throughout the United States and Canada.

Why did these individuals succeed when so many others failed? What prompted them to act, when so many people preferred to do nothing—or worse? Using newspaper accounts, rare archival documents, and her own experience sailing as an apprentice aboard the recently re-created Jeanie Johnston, Kathryn Miles tells the story of these extraordinary people and the revolutionary milieu in which they set sail. The tale of each individual is remarkable in and of itself; read collectively, their stories paint a unique portrait of bravery in the face of a new world order. Theirs is a story of ingenuity and even defiance, one that recounts a struggle to succeed, to shake the mantle of oppression and guilt, to endure in the face of unimaginable hardship. On more than one occasion, stewards of the ship would be accused of acting out of self-interest or greed. Nevertheless, what these men—and their ship—accomplished over the course of eleven voyages to North America was the stuff of legend.

Interwoven in their tale is the story of Nicholas Reilly, a baby boy born on the ship’s maiden voyage. The Reilly family climbed aboard the Jeanie Johnston in search of the American Dream. While they would find some version of that dream, it would not be without a struggle—one that would deposit Nicholas into a deeply controversial moment in American history. Against this backdrop, Miles weaves a thrilling, intimate narrative, chronicling the birth of a remarkable Irish-American family in the face of one of the planet’s greatest human rights atrocities.




About the Author

Kathryn Miles is professor of environmental writing at Unity College. She lives in Belfast, Maine.




NPR
Sunday, Mar 17, 2013

In the mid-19th century, more than a million Irish fled the potato famine in search of a better life. But the fate they met aboard so-called "coffin ships" headed to the New World was often as bad as what they left behind. Not so for those lucky enough to find their way onto one ship. Kathryn Miles tells the story in her book, All Standing. More at NPR.org

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Praise For All Standing

"An enchanting and dedicated historian, Kathryn Miles takes us on a journey from lore to science and back again. By turns harrowing and heartwarming, All Standing salvages the treasure of a history lost at sea." -- J.C. Hallman, author of The Devil is a Gentleman and Wm & H'ry and In Utopia

All Standing illuminates a dire period in history I knew little about. Through Kathryn Miles’ crisp writing and meticulous research, I gained understanding and insight into this humanitarian crisis, but also was felt as if I was a passenger on the harrowing trans-Atlantic crossing of the Jeanie Johnston. Bravo to the author for bringing the story to life and illuminating the best and worst of the people involved.” -- Michael Tougias, author of A Storm Too Soon, Fatal Forecast, and Overboard!

"Well-researched and engagingly written, Kathryn Miles' All Standing is full of compelling characters--including the Jeanie Johnston herself. The ship becomes a beacon of hope in an age Miles paints with vigor as beset by famine, disease, political callousness and cruelty." --Ginger Strand, author of Killer on the Road and Inventing Niagara

"Kathryn Miles illuminates the true horror of the Irish Potato Famine in the way that only well written and thoroughly researched narrative history can, presenting the story in every instance through the eyes of the people who lived it, making it all the more palpable, the suffering and the glimmers of hope all the more immediate. This is a very well done book about one of the most brutal and shameful episodes in the past three hundred years of Western history." --James L. Nelson, author of With Fire and Sword: The Battle of Bunker Hill and the Beginning of the American Revolution

"Kathryn Miles illuminates the true horror of the Irish Potato Famine in the way that only well written and thoroughly researched narrative history can, presenting the story in every instance through the eyes of the people who lived it, making it all the more palpable, the suffering and the glimmers of hope all the more immediate. This is a very well done book about one of the most brutal and shameful episodes in the past three hundred years of Western history." --James L. Nelson, author of With Fire and Sword: The Battle of Bunker Hill and the Beginning of the American Revolution

“This is the story of the miraculous Jeanie Johnston, a ship that defied all odds crossing the Atlantic--but Kathryn Miles delves much deeper, weaving through it the larger stories of deadly sea-faring, rampant epidemic disease, and the disastrous, mass displacement of the Irish. With expert attention to detail and seamless writing, Miles takes you aboard the 'coffin ships' and into the lives of the shipbuilders, captains, maritime physicians, Irish refugees and those remarkable individuals who managed to survive.” ---- Molly Caldwell Crosby, author of The Great Pearl Heist and The American Plague

"From moldering black potatoes in the fields of mid-19th Ireland, to hostile “Irish need not apply” signs cropping up across American cities, the story of the great potato blight is neither simple nor direct. Kathryn Miles makes this sweeping, often overwhelmingly sad story both lucid and accessible as she tells the tales of captivating characters, including Quebec shipbuilder John Munn, Irish ship surgeon Richard Blennerhassett, and Reillys, a beleaguered family of immigrants. Miles puts faces on one of history’s greatest calamities." --Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails

"The author’s solid research and use of newly available material exposes the truth of the Potato Famine, the barbaric policies that exacerbated it and the incredible will of the Irish people." --Kirkus Reviews

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