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Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing Paperback – February 1, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are cousins! So are Obama and Dick Cheney, Obama and Brad Pitt, and Obama and Rush Limbaugh! Wow. What are the odds? “Oh,” Smolenyak writes, “about 100 percent.” The most surprising thing about this lively book by a noted genealogist is that some things we think are surprising really aren’t. Technically speaking, we’re all related, if you go back far enough, but even starting from a mere 10 generations ago, you’ll find more than 1,000 direct ancestors have been generated, making unexpected kinships, well, expected. Geography plays a big role, too. Hillary Clinton is related to Celine Dion and Shania Twain, for example, because one of the branches of her family is French Canadian. By relating some of her more famous and intriguing genealogical investigations—the Obama–Brad Pitt connection, the history of a family Bible, Obama’s much-publicized Irish roots—Smolenyak shows readers just how exciting, shocking, and heartwarming the field of genealogy can be, and he busts a few fondly held myths about the work genealogists do. --David Pitt

About the Author

Megan Smolenyak has been an avid genealogist for more than three decades and is an expert at family history research. The lead researcher for the PBS A"ncestors" series, she is a contributing editor for "Heritage Quest" and the author of "Honoring Our Ancestors, In Search of Our Ancestors, "and "They Came to America," She currently resides in Williamsburg, VA.
Ann Turner was hooked on genealogy when she learned that her parents' ancestors had arrived in the United States on the same ship yet went their separate ways until her parents met 300 years later. She works at home, writing computer software and composing messages for the popular "Genealogy-DNA" mailing list. She currently resides in Menlo Park, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel; Original edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080653446X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806534466
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, that's her real name) is a genealogical adventurer who loves solving mysteries, making unexpected discoveries and pushing the boundaries of conventional genealogy.

A popular writer, speaker and TV guest, Megan has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, the Early Show, CNN, NPR and BBC. In addition to consulting on shows ranging from Who Do You Think You Are? to Top Chef, she is the author of six books, a Huffington Post contributor, a cold case researcher for the Army, NCIS and the FBI, and former Chief Family Historian and spokesperson for Ancestry.com.

Her most recent books are Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing and Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History, companion guide to the TV series.

Megan's "greatest hits" include the following:
* Discovering Michelle Obama's roots, as featured on the front page of The New York Times
* Celebrity roots as featured on assorted TV shows (e.g., Martha Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Brooke Shields, Cory Booker, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, Richard Blais, etc.) and in her writings (e.g., Betty White, Katy Perry, Joe Biden, Beyonce, Julia Roberts, Jon Hamm, Josh Groban, Pink, Prince, Jon Stewart, Bruno Mars, etc.)
* Tracing Barack Obama's roots to Moneygall, Co. Offaly, Ireland
* Providing 14 years of forensic consulting to the U.S. Army to locate thousands of family members of soldiers still unaccounted for from WWI, WWII, Korea and Southeast Asia
* Correcting history by revealing the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island, as featured on the front page of The New York Times
* Using her sleuthing skills to help coroners and medical examiners locate the next of kin for unclaimed persons
* Supporting more than 150 genealogical initiatives through her Seton Shields Genealogy Grants Program

Kind words about Megan's work:

"Megan Smolenyak is a master storyteller who brings personal history to life." -- Cheryl Richardson, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care, Take Time for Your Life and more

"Megan Smolenyak ... is the guru ... - the beginning, the middle, and the end of genealogy. And like all good gurus, she inspires the rest of us to find our own roots, to keep digging until we know our own story." -- Pam Grout, New York Times best-selling author of E-Squared, E-Cubed and more

"Megan is a gifted roots detective who uncovers the past through meticulous research." -- Patricia Harty, Editor/Co-Founder, Irish America Magazine

"The stories in In Search of Our Ancestors are touching and personal. Each one reveals the three S's that are at the heart of researching our family roots: surprise, serendipity, and secrets." -- Lisa See, New York Times best-selling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love and more

"Megan . . . is, hands down, America's greatest genealogist." -- Andrew Carroll, editor of the New York Times bestsellers War Letters and Behind the Lines

"The Indiana Jones of genealogy...Megan Smolenyak is a national treasure." -- Buzzy Jackson, author of Shaking the Family Tree

"Megan Smolenyak is the genealogist's genealogist - the go-to person for building your family tree and solving stubborn historical mysteries." -- Dr. Spencer Wells, Director of the Genographic Project, National Geographic

"Megan can find the living as well as the dead - and she has the skills to do it quickly." -- Leland & Patty Meitzler, genealogyblog.com

"Thank you for taking the time to lay out our family map... You're practically family. You certainly know more about us than we do." -- Stephen Colbert

"Megan is a genealogist's dream, a forensic investigator who can also tell a great story." -- Sam Roberts, The New York Times

"Megan is a blessing to cold-case detectives and a master genealogist." -- Julie M. Haney, special agent, NCIS Cold Case Homicide Unit

You can find Megan online at the following sites:

* MeganSmolenyak.com (http://www.megansmolenyak.com)
* Honoring Our Ancestors (http://honoringourancestors.com)
* Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-smolenyak-smolenyak)
* Twitter (http://twitter.com/megansmolenyak)
* Facebook (http://facebook.com/smolenyak)
* LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/megansmolenyak)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I preordered this wonderful book and read it as soon as it came in the mail. It is a great uplifting and motivating read for anyone interested in genealogy. I think it would even be a fun read for those not really interested in genealogy research. She is a great detective and a wonderful representative for all genealogists everywhere. She certainly has shown everyone that genealogy research can be anything but dull! She is an expert in the field but her writing is in no way condescending and makes you feel like you can follow the same research steps that she does. She also explained how DNA testing can be extremely helpful for genealogists. Thank you Megan Smolenyak!

[...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not a 'genie' so was surprised and delighted to find this book about various aspects of a genealogists trade to be such an engrossing and interesting read.
Megan not only shares her stories of challenges and accomplishments, she also teaches us how to think about solving these types of puzzles.
Her easy story-telling style makes me feel included in her excitement and wonder at the many unexpected truths she unveils as she works her way through the cases.
This book seems appropriate for folks who are exploring their own family roots as well as those of us who are just intrigued by this type of detective work.
She clearly loves what she does and is a generous and dedicated professional with a lot of writing talent.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After seeing there were full 5 stars and over 30 reviews, I decided this author must have some good writing ability, and stories to tell about geneaology. Sure enough I was not disppointed, I am about 3/4 way thru this book and lounging my way through the last portion as I have two more days before the other two books written by her will arrive here. Yes, I ordered two more of her books. This book delves into various stories of a professional geneaologist, from tracking down descendants of a man who died in the civil war ship Monitor, to the man who helped make the famous Liberty statue on top of the U.S. Capitol building. The only part I did not particularly care for was the amount of ink spent on both the current President Obama and his wife, perhaps one chapter on him would have sufficed, as I am not a fan of Mr. Obama's policies. However I easily overlook that and focus on the excellant writing, attention to detail, use of the language, and well proofed and intelligently written but easy to read chapters in this book. I highly recommend this book, and plan on reading at least 2 more of her books on genealogy and genetics.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to expand the search of my roots. Unfortunately I learned very little. The author used this book to 'sell' herself which did not reveal many specifics. If you are a beginner, or thinking of searching your family - for the first time, this may be helpful.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this one in one evening after I purchased it for my kindle. It is a very enjoyable anecdotal book as well as being very informative about many uses and needs for genealogy that I had not realized before. I love a good detective story, and this meets the criteria. Other reviewers have covered content review, but I wanted to add that I was pleased with the Kindle format on this book. I have been disappointed with the formatting of some other books, feeling that I missed out on some of the images, etc, but the kindle formatting on this one was very good, with photos, images, and style intact.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been researching my family history for almost 30 years. I follow Megan on Facebook and Twitter, and wasn't sure what to expect when I downloaded this book on my Kindle. I really wasn't looking for a dry "how to" book.

However, I was very pleased and entertained! This is a collection of stories of of some of her most intriguing cases, both celebrity and non-celebrity. She tells about her brickwalls, how she got through them, and the "a-ha" moments. All written with a wonderful sense of humor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book from beginning to end~ Megan's insight into researching her family tree as well as others made me feel like maybe I could crack what I have never been able to find doing my own genealogy. What was really interesting is one of her searches was a woman from Baker City, Oregon. I was born about 20 miles from there. Megan is so inspiring and I am honored to call her friend.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing

After reading this wonderful book, Megan
has convinced me nothing is impossible. My brick wall dates to the birth of my 3rd
great-grandfather--1797 in Rowan Co, NC.
My brother and I have been trying for many
years to go back another generation but have been unable to. Megan has given me
the hope to keep on researching and I WILL
find the answer I am seeking. Great work,
Megan! Thank you! Judy Jouglet
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