Tuesday, May 7, 2013

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

All Standing by Kathryn Miles tells of one of the greatest human rights atrocities of all time, the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, in which millions of people starved to death due to government ineptitude. Based upon thorough scholarship, this work of non-fiction reads like a novel, bringing to life the Reilly family as they try to escape the famine for the New World. The Reillys are fortunate to be among the first passengers of the Jeanie Johnston, which unlike other famine ships made a priority of keeping passengers alive. The reader is introduced to the men behind the Jeanie, the shipwright who designed and built her, the captain who was resolved to bring the ship and passengers safely to port, and the doctor who risked his life in order to keep his clients healthy. The heroism of a few shines brightly when surrounded by the greed, cowardice and indifference with which most of the world watched the Irish people suffer and die. All Standing invades the reader’s comfort zone with grim images of the not too distant past while showing how a little courage and common sense preserved thousands.

(This review was originally published in the May 2013 edition of the Historical Novels Review.)

(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)

Here is an interview with Kathryn Miles about the Irish Potato Famine from NPR.


1 comment:

julygirl said...

Yes, I have read how the Irish, in the millions, were systematically starved to death by the English, and how they were not welcome on this continent. The ones who got in were relegated to slave labor, but were not valued as much as slaves because no cash was expended in purchasing them. I once lived in an area near the remains of the C&O Canal where there is a mass grave of Irish workers who contracted Yellow Fever during the building of the Canal....that was their final resting place....their names known only to God.