All Standing: The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, The Legendary Irish Famine Ship
By Kathryn Miles
Simon & Schuster, 2013
256 pages, hardcover
All Standing is a historical treatise on the woeful 19th century tide of Irish immigrants who sailed to North America aboard notoriously overcrowded “coffin ships.” The meticulously researched book details the complex issues contributing to one of history’s darkest hours. The overwhelming odds of survival against a rising tide of famine and disease are vividly woven through the narrative.
One ship among the fleeing hordes was unique: she never lost a life. Passengers aboard Jeanie Johnston exchanged all for the chance to start again, far removed from the stench of rotting potatoes and certain demise. They fiercely clung to hope, despite deplorable conditions on the harrowing voyage to America. The surprise birth of Nicholas Reilly aboard the ship becomes a collective symbol of that hope, a flickering beacon of resolve in a desperate existence.
A modern parable, All Standing cracks open one of history’s darkest chapters, examining the chain of actions that threaten to crush the human spirit, and the sheer strength of will to overcome the odds with unrelenting courage.