on September 2, 2012
Finding your family's roots can be a fascinating, if sometimes slightly unnerving experience, and I found this at excellent starting point. It is a lot harder than you think it is going to be at first, but Simon Fowler guides you gradually through all the steps, and makes sure you know precisely what you are doing as you go along. He can't help you with everything in this introduction to the subject - and everyone is going to get stuck somewhere along the way - but he tells you were the facts are hidden away and how you can find them. I bought a few books on subject but this was the best value kindle edition.
on September 13, 2012
For starters, this is very poorly formatted. All apostrophes show up as a symbol of a black diamond with a question mark in the middle. Very distracting.
Secondly, it's not very well written. In the introductions, the author frequently will start on a thought that could be elaborated upon with a decent paragraph but then cuts off after only one or two sentences before jumping onto another thought. Sentences are very short and choppy and could have used a lot more conjunctions to make it flow better. There is also no conclusion or sum up, it just abruptly ends with information and links about Irish genealogy and nothing to tell the reader that it's the end of the book, not just the end of a chapter.
Worse, I spotted some inaccuracies. The author claims that photography really became popular in the 1890s with the arrival of the Kodak Brownie but this camera was not released until 1900. The author also refers to it as the "Box Brownie" (with "box" being capitalized which means it's part of the name, not a mere description), which is not what it was called. It was merely the Brownie or Kodak Brownie. "Box" may be an accurate description of the type of camera it was but it was not the model name. Kodak did have a camera out in the 1890s but it was merely called "Kodak", not the Brownie. I think perhaps the author confused the two camera models. For someone writing on how to do historical research, the author did not do a very good job researching the history of these cameras.
There are some useful tips in here but the disjointed way it's written and the inaccuracies would certainly give me pause to recommend it as a good starters guide. It should also be noted that it is based on UK ancestry research. It may not by very helpful to readers from other countries or with other heritages. At the same time, I was surprised to find no mention of the UK Online Parish Clerks, where you can find many parish record transcriptions for free. While it is by no means complete, I have found several Lancashire records of my ancestors there. The author does say he plans to update the book about every 6 months with any additional links but that brings me to the point of this not being very suitable to a book. Granted, ebooks are easier to update than print books! But it seems to me that with it being so short and with plans to update regularly, this would be more suitable as a website or blog. (ETA, 2 years after writing this initial review, there have been no updates to the book, let alone one every 6 months). I picked it up for free, the digital list price is $2.99 and I'm not sure it's worth that, not when there are plenty of beginner's guides and compilation lists of helpful websites out there on the internet for free.
on September 18, 2012
Thanks to television shows such as `Who Do You Think You Are', researching your family history has quickly become a popular hobby and this book proves to be a good first guide for beginners to genealogy. With plenty of web-links and useful contacts throughout, both free and paid, this book takes away some of the initial confusion as Fowler provides his expert opinion on the best ways to track down your ancestors. Personally, I would have appreciated a short summary of important websites at the end, as sometimes the information load is quite overwhelming; yet, the short length makes this guide easy enough to dip in and out of at your leisure. I'd recommend this to others as a starting point for researching their family tree before sampling more in-depth (but certainly more expensive) titles on the market.
on September 17, 2012
I downloaded this book on a free promotion. This is an accessible and short book offering step-by-step guidance for those who have always wanted to uncover their family history but didn't know where to start. Although I'm not a complete novice the book still provided me with tips and resources, such as preserving heirlooms and using archives effectively. I have read a few other guides that just overwhelmed me with information, but this one contains clear sections on different topics. Overall I am really impressed with this book, it offers great value considering the wealth of expertise and information that it offers.