A breakaway bestseller since it first appeared in 1999, All Souls takes us deep into Michael Patrick MacDonald’s Southie, the proudly insular neighborhood with the highest concentration of white poverty in America. Buy the Book!
Rocked by Whitey Bulger’s drug schemes and school busing riots, MacDonald’s Southie is populated by sharply hewn characters like his Ma, a miniskirted accordion-playing single mother who endures the deaths of four of her eleven children. Nearly suffocated by his grief and Southie’s code of silence, MacDonald tells his family story with gritty honesty and radiant insight. By turns explosive and touching, All Souls ultimately shares a powerful message of hope, renewal, and redemption.
Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in South Boston’s Old Colony housing project. After losing four siblings and seeing his generation decimated by poverty, crime, and addiction, he became a leading Boston activist, helping launch many antiviolence initiatives, including gun-buyback programs. He continues to work for social change nationally, collaborating with survivor families and young people.
MacDonald won the American Book Award in 2000. His national bestseller, All Souls, and his follow-up, Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion have been adopted by university curriculums across the country. MacDonald has written numerous essays for the Boston Globe Op-Ed Page and has completed the screenplay of All Souls for director Ron Shelton. He is currently Author-in-Residence at Northeastern University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
"All Souls grasps your emotions from the first pages and wont let go." — Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States
"All Souls is the written equivalent of an Irish Wake, where revelers dance and sing the dead persons praises. In that same style, the book leavens tragedy with dashes of humor but preserves the heartbreaking details." — Brent Staples, The New York Times Book Review
"A guileless and powerful memoir of precarious life and early death in Boston’s Irish ghetto...MacDonald gives new life to this old American story of poor-white pride and prejudice. He also has a knack for quickly grabbing and holding a reader’s attention." — R. Z. Sheppard, TIME Magazine
"His anecdotes have the fiery power of a redeemed sinner’s fiery sermon. His swift conversational style sweeps you into his anger and sorrow. He is a born rabble-rouser whose emotional power numbs the reader’s reason." — USA Today
"Peppered with hard-won humor…the story of a man who understands poverty because he has known it and is blessed with an ability to bear witness in plainspoken prose." — Newsweek
"Harrowing." — Susan Orlean, The New Yorker
"All Souls hits with the power of a driven fist that crashes through the cynics intellectual defenses and leaves one speechless." — Sunday Business Post (U.K. and Ireland)
"An incendiary, moving book that startles on nearly every page.... A remarkable work." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A rare and compelling book. Highly passionate." — Chicago Tribune
"With every sentence, MacDonald seems to be working through his pain, searching for deeper meaning... This tough Irish American transforms hardship into hope." — Vibe
"All Souls is a memoir filled with desperation and despair, but there is also hope in it... His discovery of his vocation in neighborhood activism is a refreshing change from most memoirs, which so often...are largely concerned with describing an ascent to celebrityhood." — Julian Moynahan, The New York Review of Books
"A brilliantly original memoir of white-working-class life…MacDonald spins stories with a wondrous mix of wild humor and brooding darkness. Though his prose is luminous, he has a purposefulness that goes well beyond that of a raconteur." — David L. Kirp, The American Prospect
"Michael Patrick MacDonald has a gift for narrative, an eye for social detail, and a voice of earned authenticity. He is the man... He was there." — Jack Beatty, author of The Rascal King
"He’s written the most honest portrayal of lost youth." — Dicky Barrett of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, US Weekly
"Powerful...All Souls covers ground nobody has covered before: it’s an insider tale told by a man who got out then returned, drawing a chilling link between ‘Irish Mafia’ drug activity headed by a kingpin Whitey Bulger, and the deaths of young people whose lives were quickly forgotten... Fascinating reading." — The Irish Herald
"A must read…All Souls is poised to become one of the most significant Irish American books of the era." — Irish Edition
"Remarkable... Compulsively readable, a sort of mean-streets alternative to Frank McCourt... Reading it may change your ideas about American poverty forever." — The Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)
"Michael Patrick MacDonald rips the cover off the myth that poverty and violence happen predominantly in the black community. His story of growing up poor and white in South Boston reminds me of my own, growing up poor and black in the South Bronx. This is an honest, piercing tale -once you read it, you will never look at our country the same way." — Geoffrey Canada, author of Fist Stick Knife Gun