09 January 2011

Book Review: Shaking the Family Tree by Buzzy Jackson

I just completed reading Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist by Buzzy Jackson (Touchstone, New York, 2010).  I picked it up on the recommendation of more than one other Geneablogger, and the title alone was enough to grab me.

I must say that I don't find it the least bit ironic that written in an era dominated by online social networking, that I thought the book read like a 200+ page post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter.  It is in fact sort of two books interwoven.  On one hand you have the almost ego-driven story of Buzzy herself as she goes about learning and practicing family research.  She tells us her opinion on practically everything -- guns, gays, cruises, cruise ship participants, the south, southerners, the use of the Confederate Flag, religion, the religious, the D.A.R., elites, and on and on.  And perhaps most of all -- her undying support for Barack Obama.  What does any of this have to do with family history, genealogy, or the search for it?  Nothing.  Yet that makes up at least half the book.

Contrast that to the other half, that which is relevant to her quest.  And I do mean "contrast," for it is engaging and engrossing; Masterfully written.  If you are a true genealogist, I dare you to put down the chapter on her trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City!  But those genuinely golden nuggets are few and far between, and the reader must put up with yet another liberal rant about this or that to find them.

I am politically and socially conservative, Buzzy is clearly from the other end of the political spectrum.  So I found all the political opinion irritating and irrelevant.   I suspect that those who agree with her politically will find it lesser so.

Copyright © 2011 by Kevin W. Walker

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