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All Standing: The True Story of Hunger, Rebellion, and Survival Aboard the Jeanie Johnston
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All Standing: The True Story of Hunger, Rebellion, and Survival Aboard the Jeanie Johnston

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  280 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
The dramatic true tale of a boy born at sea during the Irish Potato famine and the “coffin ship” that saved him and thousands of others from one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises.The nineteenth century Irish Potato Famine claimed the lives of more than 1,000,000 people. Many of these were Irish citizens who died on board ships carrying them away from Ireland. Pro ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Free Press (first published August 7th 2012)
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Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book because of a good review and the fact that I often pass the Jeanie Johnston bar in Jamaica Plain, MA. Yep, the bar's name made me want to know more.

Miles is such a good writer and much of her book reads like fiction. She's had to do a prodigious amount of research in order to tell the story of the Irish Potato Famine, shipbuilding, cholera and other diseases aboard the "coffin ships." She weaves in the story of a baby boy born on the Jeanie Johnston's first trip across the ocea
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kathryn Miles' All Standing takes us along on the perilous Atlantic journey undertaken by 1 million desperate Irish emigrants in the midst of what has become known simply as "the Famine", (as if there had been only one). Although the story of the famine is one most Americans are familiar with, since it was the impetus of so many of our ancestors, All Standing: The True Story of Hunger, Rebellion, and Survival brought to life parts of the story I'd never heard before. The Jeannie Johnston was one ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I first heard a mention of the Jeanie Johnston, I decided I needed to read about her. I was amazed that an immigrant ship from this era could make all it's voyages and arrive with all her passengers alive. The Jeanie Johnston went from first launch to sinking in a storm with only one on board death (a crew member who died of an illness). This book does an excellent job explaining the conditions the ship sailed in. It also follows some key people who impacted the career of this ship, includi ...more
I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

Although the title of this book implies that it is all about the ship the Jeanie Johnston, it would be hard to write a book about one ship that sailed for 10 years 150 years ago. The Jeanie Johnston is noteworthy because even after 7 or 8 emigrant runs, no passenger ever died at sea--in an era when the ships carrying Irish emigrants were called "coffin ships".

What this book does do is give an excellent overview of the Irish potato fa
Teri Stich
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
While the title and synopsis suggest this is about the ship “Jeanie Johnston”, it really is about a whole lot more! It goes into the history of the great potato famine of Ireland, the ways in which the government handle (or should it be said, Mishandled) the crisis, the great exodus of the Irish people to America, as well as what they found when they arrived. The information was very informative and seems to be well researched. My issue with the book is the choppiness of the chapters. The autho ...more
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really, really enjoyed this. All Standing is an incredible story of the Jeanie Johnston, an Irish ship that transported thousands of immigrants to North America during the potato famine, without having one passenger die. Not one. (A cook died on one of the later trips, but seemed to be of natural causes.) Other ships during this time were aptly named coffin ships, due to the number of people dying of typhus or cholera or even starvation.

Miles weaves throughout the ship's story, another story
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am 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 ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
How do you take a starving population and move them across an ocean without having them die on your ship? You take the healthiest, feed them just a tiny bit better, insist on cleanliness, and isolate anyone who gets sick. This helps stop the spread of typhus and cholera. How do you feed the population when a potato famine strikes? You don't, if you're English. You just label the Irish ignorant and lazy people who will happily lay around and do nothing if you feed them for free. Sound familiar?
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Those nasty Brits... & all they did to drive the Irish into the sea- literally- This book covers a terrible period of history. The Irish Famine ranks with the Native American genocide and the Jewish Holocaust (not to mention the Turko-Armeninan genocide, the Ukrainian Famine of the 1930s, and others,) as a tragic case of state-engineered human misery & destruction. Ms. Miles describes the one 'famine ship" that managed to bring all its passengers across the Atlantic without a single deat ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review by John is posted at Layers of Thought.

John’s quick take: The Great Famine in Ireland is one of the most shameful episodes in the last 200 years of Western history. All Standing is an accurate retelling of the story of the legendary Jeanie Johnston famine ship, interwoven with a vivid history of the famine and the tale of one family who emigrated to America aboard the Jeanie Johnston to avoid the catastrophe.

John’s description: On the surface, the Great Famine was caused by potat
Mary Czarnecki
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Definitely worth reading-- history everyone should know, since it has much to do w/Irish immigration to this country-- hundreds of thousands of Irish coming to the US to start a new life, escaping the horror of famine and the terrifying spread of typhus and cholera. There was literally nothing for the poor to eat, once the potato blight took hold & wiped out most of the crop for several years in the 1840's. The potato then was not quite like ours today-- it apparently was much more nutrient- ...more
Susan Emmet
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While re-heating inside after a snow shoe trip in The Forks, we met a young man on telemark skis, shushing down the mountain out back of camp. He does solar work, went to Unity College, and Kathryn Miles was his teacher/advisor. He complimented her heartily - and her new book (which we'd already bought due to recommendation of a friend). Plus my husband (who grew up on Irish Alley in Gardiner, ME) is of Irish-French Canadian ancestry. He was especially drawn to a book about the emigration of so ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Many books have been written about the "Great Hunger." I was expecting a historical account of one story about this time, the Jeanie Johnston. Since there wasn't enough to write about the ship (the Jeanie Johnston), the author tells the story of the famine and the British attempts to solve the problem. She also attempts to tell the story of one family that made the journey, but she has only bare facts to go on, so she makes up a lot.

Her style is to fictionalize a non-fiction story and to embelli
Donna Davis
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love Ireland and/or history
The Irish potato famine is at its worst. Blight kills all of the potatoes--my god, even the ones that had been harvested and stored away in root cellars where the families thought they could access them!--and the potato was nearly the only crop that the Irish had. Millions depended on charity (nearly nonexistent) or the government, and unspeakable numbers died, while the grain that had grown was shipped abroad as an export for sale. Local farmers who had a surviving patch of turnips or even a si ...more
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was really excited to read this book because it was about the Potato Famine in Ireland and the mass emigration to North America aboard the coffin ships. I wasn't familiar with many of the details of the famine but was always intrigued by American stories of hardships like the Dust Bowl. This was a similar situation in that a prolonged problems causes many farmers to have to move at great peril to themselves and their families.

While All Standing was fairly informative I didn't like it as much a
Paul Pessolano
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
“All Standing” by Kathryn Miles, published by Free Press.

Category – Irish History Publication Date – January 08, 2013

This is a true account of the Irish Potato Famine that provides a different approach to the horrors of that time. The story is told through the history of the ship “Jeanie Johnston”.

The famine claimed the lives of over a million people, most dying a horrible death. In an effort, albeit a stupid one, the English Government enacted a program to emigrate those Irish willing to go to
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kathryn Miles engrossing history of the the Irish famine ship Jeanie Johnston goes much farther than it might seem at the start. Through well documented footnotes and source material it provides a meticulous background for the origins and outcome of the infamous Irish famine of the mid-nineteenth century and illustrates it, in human terms, by tracking one of the families involved. The potato blight that struck in 1845 was a disaster for most of Europe but none suffered as profoundly as Ireland. ...more
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed learning about a very significant time in the history of Ireland. It was well written and very understandable.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was an unexpectedly broad book that centered on a remarkable captain and crew who carried shiploads of Irish from the famine in their land to the new world, without loss of life. That in itself is remarkable when the norm of famine ships was for a mortality rate of 30-50% of passengers due to weakened constitutions to begin with, to cholera and typhus roaring through the passengers while on board. (And storms that took out many ships along with their human cargo as the route took them throu ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Told with the sweep and drive of a novel, All Standing is the true tale of a particular "coffin ship", as those sailing ships transporting families fleeing (or sent from) the great Irish famine of the early eighteen hundreds for Canada were called. The Jeanie Johnston's claim to fame was that she never lost a passenger, at a time when typhus and cholera, storms at sea and crowded, inhumane accommodations both during the crossing and upon arrival were claiming tragic numbers of lives on similar s ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an engaging true tale about the Irish potato famine and the experiences of those who attempted to escape the famine by immigrating to the U.S. in the "coffin ships" in which many lives were lost. The story gave me a deeper understanding of the challenges the immigrants and the sailors endured. I was inspired by the heroism of a sea captain and his ship physician who were able to protect the lives of virtually all the their passengers while thousands of lives were lost in the other sailin ...more
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A excellent book about the Irish Potato Famine. The author follows a your Irish family from their farm in County Kerry to a coffin ship, the Jeanie Johnston, making her maiden voyage as an emigration vessel. We learn of the political, financial and professional benefits that the British sought to gain from running the Irish out of Ireland. But most importantly we learn of those individuals who were driven by the craft that they knew best and who were compassionate. The dedicated doctors, ship ca ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: school, 2015
Horrible beyond horrible.
Unorganized conglomerate of horrible writing. It's part fiction part nonfiction but it just fails. There is no distinction in time between the fictional parts. There are too many people, all of which are not really given identities/developed so I was confused every page.
It attempts to touch on some really important aspects, especially politically, but then fails to explain them or give them depth. OH MY GOD. It was so frustrating because I wanted to simultaneously say "
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kathryn Miles has written a superb little book about the tragedy of the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-52 and,happily, focuses attention on one of the few good stories to come out of it. The central character is the brig Jeanie Johnston along with her remarkable captain, compassionate surgeon, dauntless crew and of course the courageous famine victims who sailed on her. At a time when the death rate for passengers on famine ships was often 50% or higher, the Jeanie Johnston made ten trips with only ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
A history of the Irish potato famine and how politics and money trumped wisdom in handling a national disaster. The Irish population fled the country when their crops failed and the government pronounced starving citizens "free loaders" that they just couldn't afford to help. Sound familiar? Cholera plagued the ships that plied the Atlantic Ocean bringing the immigrants to Canada where cholera continued to take its toll on people worn down by poverty, ill-health and hopelessness. One ship had a ...more
May 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I heard the author, Kathryn Miles, in an interview on NPR, and I was intrigued by her subject - an Irish famine ship. Since I dabble with family genealogy and my husband and son-in-law both have Irish roots, I thought I might be better informed about the whys of the Irish immigration to America. And Miles did succeed in that area, but the excitement and drama of her book only existed when she dealt with the Jeanie Johnston, one of the coffin ships. I really was not interested in the London World ...more
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: genealogy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I thought this story bled into marginally related areas. Of course there were political aspects of the Irish Potato Famine and the mass emigration, but this book spent too much time on those and not enough on the subject ship. She told us what kind of ship it was, but gave little description of that kind of ship. Not even a sketch of the outline. Yet, it seemed to *me* that the author struggled to fill 200 pages with half that much subject matter. I think this story would have been better if con ...more
Oct 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Excellent book about the Irish famine and the coffin ships, the Jeanie Johnston in particular, that brought more than one million immigrants to North America. The book follows the Jeanie Johnston from its birthplace in Quebec, to its purchase by an Irish owner, to bringing immigrants to North America in eleven voyages without any deaths. This was at the time of "coffin ships" where more than one hundred thousand immigrants perished crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The book is well researched and the ...more
Diane Bamford
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a "who knew?" book. It's all about the potato famine from Ireland (Europe) to Canada and the U.S.. It covers the politics of famine and what caused it. All the effects of famine from disruption of one's life, moving to another continent for food, to the economic impacts and who benefitted and how. The Jennie Johnston was one of the coffin ships that carried passengers to Canada and the only ship where all the passengers arrived alive due to the captain and his onboard doctor who insisted ...more
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“America may have been providentially chosen, but that was far from true for a good number of its inhabitants. The same racist ideology that allowed this generation of people to so easily take land from the Mexicans and Native Americans was also endowing them with the justification they needed. The Irish, a growing number of Americans maintained, were not just a different race; they were visibly inferior.” 0 likes
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