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Reunion: A Search for Ancestors Paperback – October 15, 2012
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"Littrell brings the reader along as he researches, travels, meets distant cousins, and uncovers the history of his family....Reunion is an interesting and well-written book." (Leslie Lang, Talk Story Press)
"I loved this book. Ryan writes with great emotion and love of family....His experience with newfound cousins in Scotland who are willing to sit and talk is completely consistent with my own experience. I'm asking my children and older grandchildren to read it ASAP." (Mark MacDonald, National Historian of Clan Donald USA)
"Reunion: A Search for Ancestors is a fascinating story that is hard to put down." (Denise B. Olson, Moultrie Creek Books)
About the Author
Ryan Littrell grew up in Chatham, Illinois and attended Northwestern University, Harvard University, and Boston College. He lives in Austerlitz, New York, and Reunion is his first book.
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One feels first hand how it feels to be a Clan member and see the connection of us in the 21st century to those in the 17th century. After this book is read, you will want to find more about your ancestors, to bring their stories into the present. Littrell does, in fact, show one how to do genealogy study by describing in story-like fashion how he went about putting the pieces together.
Do yourself a favor- read this book, and discover your own family stories!
It's challenging one: why should anyone be interested in the doings of generation after generation of farmers, and the painstaking gathering of proof that A truly begat B? I'm a passionate genealogist, but even I feel my eyelids droop at some of the self published family histories I've found in my local library. They're meaningful for the family in question but not for the rest of us.
And that's where this book is such a surprise because it engages the reader and it makes her care. You don't need to be descended from Scottish forebears nor a keen family historian to find this a good read; I'd suggest you simply need to have had your own questions about your past and how much it has shaped you.
It helps that Littrell can write well. "Look Inside" on Amazon is a great feature! I'm adopted and I found his musings on belonging and identity so poignant and perceptive that they convinced me to buy the book. HIs writing ability also came to the fore in the challenging passages when he was reviewing the various research hypotheses he was faced with. Keeping the reader clear on just which John and which Angus he was talking about took some skill!
There is a powerful engine driving this narrative on and on. Just as in a whodunnit, the question being asked in the book is very clear and the need to know the answer keeps the reader turning pages. Who were the unknown ancestors? And - after a Y-chromosome DNA test - the issue becomes even more focused: could the author truly be connected to an infamous event, and if so can he prove it through the records?
I'll add that I learned a lot about the supporting role DNA tests can play in genealogical research. It was a revealing case-study and makes me want to try this tool for myself!
Some reviewers have not enjoyed the historic interludes that intersperse the current day action. I too could have done with fewer of them, but I acknowledge them as a useful device to give us a break from the complexity of some of the modern detection and to give us (relatively painlessly) the political and historical backdrop to crucial HIghland events as well as insight into the culture of the clans.
Now, Mr Littrell, if this effort hasn't exhausted you, how about digging up another of your tree branches?!
The point is, it reads like a wonderful quest story, a bit of a personal mystery, which is universal, isn't it? We all wonder about those previous lives that led into our own being.
I loved the interweaving of the historical account of his MacDonald ancestors with the author's modern day search for their identity. And the conclusion is so very human and moving. I could almost hear the pipes, see the mist.
Strongly recommended for anyone interested in embarking on a similar quest. You will learn some things that will help in your own researches and hopefully be inspired to continue in what can prove an arduous undertaking.