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

Written by Kathryn Miles
Review by Elena Maria Vidal

All Standing 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.