For weeks I had heard from my colleagues in the genealogy field about this “fantastic” book with genealogy as the main subject and by a woman with an “odd name.” Somehow I thought that footnoteMaven had finally written a comprehensive book about 19th century photography studios or about photos of women with glasses. Or perhaps it was a new tome by citation goddess Elizabeth Shown Mills under a nom de plume like I. Cites. Whatever it was, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy, based on the “buzz” the book was creating.
Well Buzzy is a better word – as in Buzzy Jackson, the author of Shaking the Family Tree – Blue Bloods, Black Sheep and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist. Jackson’s view of how a fairly innocent hobby like genealogy can become an obsession is not only accurate but she is also able to convey how many genealogists – both the hobbyist and the professional – feel about searching for family history.
When I told a non-genealogy friend about Shaking the Family Tree, she said, “Well I knew you were possessed by this genealogy thing. Now I just think you are possessed.” Why do I want to climb to the top of a tree and shout about this book? Because what Jackson has written is simply what I would sit down and tell someone who asks, “So what does genealogy involve? And why are genealogists so obsessed with it?”
Buzzy Jackson’s journey which begins innocently with attending a local genealogical society meeting could be any genealogist’s journey. Over the course of the book readers not only find out more about Jackson’s own family, but how the process of searching for ancestors has changed thanks to the Internet as well as the availability of DNA testing. In fact, I was very impressed by the logical way in which Jackson described DNA testing and its genealogical uses – it is probably one of the best summaries on the subject that I’ve seen.
With humor as well as poignant details, Jackson has been able to encapsulate all the fascinates genealogists in an engaging book. Jackson covers it all: the brick walls, the genealogy research trips, the interviews with family members and more. With the holiday shopping season upon us, not only would this make a great gift for the genealogist in your life, but also for those who’ve expressed an interest and want to learn more about genealogy.
Buzzy Jackson “gets” genealogy and understands its many aspects, its traditions and what the future holds for the industry. And luckily for us, she has been able to communicate the “pull” that genealogy can have on one’s life and she’s willing to share it in Shaking the Family Tree. Not only will readers be shaken but hopefully they’ll be stirred to start their own hunt for their ancestors. Then they’ll understand the life of the genealogy-obsessed.
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Disclaimer: I contacted Touchstone Books/Simon and Schuster about receiving a review copy of the book Shaking Your Family Tree at no cost in consideration of writing a review. This material connection had no effect on the outcome of the review and the review was performed based on the merits of the written work of the author. See Disclosure Statements for more information on the material connections I have with various genealogy and non-genealogy vendors.
©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee