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All Standing: The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, The Legendary Irish Famine Ship Hardcover – January 8, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1ST edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451610130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451610130
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The exodus from the Irish famine of the 1840s prompts Miles’ contribution to the literature of Eire’s trauma. It chronicles the 10-year existence of a sailing ship that embarked refugees for North America. Named the Jeanie Johnston, a reconstruction of which is today displayed in Dublin, the ship was purpose-built for the emigration trade by a shipwright, with a captain and a doctor whom Miles portrays as humanitarians; she writes distinctly less enthusiastically of the entrepreneur in the port of Tralee, Ireland, who financed the ship. No matter who merits the credit for the Jeanie Johnston’s career, credit there was, for her voyages were distinguished for not losing any passengers; Irish immigrants died in droves on other ships. Offering great detail about the Jeanie Johnston’s nautical characteristics, Miles exemplifies the Irish immigrant’s transatlantic experience in one family who endured the crossing, passed through quarantine inspection in Canada, and settled in the U.S. Chronicling the Johnston’s further journeys and sinking in 1858, Miles, who follows occasional tangents like Queen Victoria’s visits to Ireland, ably regales her central story of a remarkable vessel. --Gilbert Taylor


"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

“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

More About the Author

Kathryn Miles is the author of SUPERSTORM: NINE DAYS INSIDE HURRICANE SANDY (Dutton 2014), ALL STANDING (Simon & Schuster 2013) and ADVENTURES WITH ARI (Skyhorse 2009). An award-winning science writer, she has published her work in dozens of publications including BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS, ECOTONE, HISTORY, OUTSIDE MAGAZINE, and POPULAR MECHANICS.

Miles currently serves as writer-in-residence for Green Mountain College and as a faculty member in Chatham University's low-residency MFA program. She is represented by the Strothman Literary Agency.

Customer Reviews

The book was well researched and well written.
Mary Anne McLaughlin
All Standing, The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, Kathryn Miles Everyone's heard of the potato blight and the Irish famine.
Jim Duggins, Ph.D.
These characters give you an idea of the book's substance.
Kenneth T. Spruce

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth T. Spruce on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've read a few Irish Famine books in the last years and most of them have read more or less like a history textbook - they were amazingly effective at putting me to sleep and when I eventually finished each successive dissertation, I wondered "Why did I just read another 300 pages on the Irish Famine?" All Standing is different.

It's evident through this work that Kathryn Miles is also a professor of "Creative Non-Fiction". This story of the Jeanie Johnston is something much, much different from your usual Irish Famine text. Full of vibrant characters and a winding, fascinating, true narrative, All Standing brings the Irish Famine story from the page to life. It haunts and excites us with the story of a baby born on one of the most treacherous ocean journeys ever made - a transatlantic crossing on an aptly named "coffin ship" - a quite literal nightmare with odds of survival twice as low as Russian Roulette. Bestowed with 17 names (after each of the crew members on board) this child seems to symbolize and recall the immigration story in all people. Miles provides great details about his incredible immigration, from ocean crossing to quarantine to the beginnings and thrivings of "The American Dream".

None of this would have been possible without the vital, yet notoriously dangerous "Famine Ship". Miles's detailed research and account of the most successful Famine Ship ever sailed, the "Jeanie Johnston", has pages soaked full of characters and plenty of action at sea and in port. Some of the characters include: James Attridge, the consummate captain, the Blennerhassett doctors, Thomas Campion, the ship's first mate, Nicholas Donovan, the capitalist and ship owner, George Douglas, quarantine physician in Quebec, and Henry Grey, the British Colonial Secretary.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nicole West on January 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A fabulous story - full of vibrant characters, heart-wrenching grief, and historical learning. Most have heard of the Irish Potato Famine (but few probably realize the full details of this atrocious historical event) and even fewer know the story of the Jeanie Johnston - the only vessel during this time period to transport immigrants to North America over the course of multiple voyages without a single death. One need not have background knowledge of the Irish Famine nor sailing to truly appreciate this book, complete with an amazing, interwoven story of a baby born aboard during the first trip and his unfolding life in a new land. Found myself picking it up to read again in the middle of the night to see what happened next.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Donald J. Hanson on February 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An amazing and real story of tragedy, courage, determination, compassion and corruption with characters right out of a soap opera. Before reading this book I knew zilch about the Irish potato famine and resulting emigration to North America, but having read a previous book by the author (Adventures with Ari) I had to read it. The determination by the starving poor of Ireland to survive, the compassion of a few shipbuilders, Captains and doctors to do the right thing, and the insidious greed and corruption of the English Whig party who were basically trying to exterminate the Irish poor so that land could be gobbled up by the English 1%, has eerie parallels to what's happening in the USA today. I started loosing my taste for tea a few years ago but after reading this book I'm not sure I'll be able to ever drink Earl Grey again.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dartiesdad on January 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Kathryn Miles in, All Standing, brings many of the loose ends of one of the great emigrations to North America together into a spell-binging read.

The narrative style, coupled with a real human interest story of a child born on the coffin ship Jeanie Johnston strike a fine balance between the horrors of the famine and watching a child grow to be successful man and father. It is a peek into the policies , biases and bigotry that helped that form that part of our history. As well, the story takes place in Ireland, Canada and the US and provides a unique perspective on how and why the Irish came to the North American continent, and what became of them.

On a personal note, I was was struck by the phrase "Help wanted, Irish need not apply" when one of the characters went looking for employment. I remember getting off a school bus in Antrim, Ontario in 1968 and seeing a sign "Help wanted, English need not apply". I didn't really know why or what that sign meant.......the circle completed for me reading this book.

Many thanks
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Josiah Beckett on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Just as the great masters of the art world use individual brush strokes to create their masterpiece, so does Miles use her palette of words to paint a picture of the story of the Jeanie Johnston: How she came to be, What perils she faced and overcame, and ultimately her destiny. A real story about real people liberly peppered with documented facts and statements. Make no mistake, this is not some dry lifeless historical catalog, but a vibrant window into Irish life in the mid-1800's, almost if the reader were the proverbial fly on the wall during those times. If you have any vestige of Irish heritage, or if you ever wore green or raised a glass on high on or about March 17th you need to read this book and understand what "being Irish" (even if its just for a day) really meant!
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