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Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History Hardcover – March 4, 2010
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About the Author
Wall to Wall Media is one of the world's leading producers of factual and drama programming. Now in their twenty-first year, they have won many major awards including an Emmy for Baby It's You and an Oscar for the feature documentary Man on Wire. Theya re the producers of the multi-award winning television series Who Do You Think You Are?
Megan Smolenyak is the chief family historian and spokesperson for Ancestry.com, the largest genealogical company in the world. She has consulted for and appeared on Good Morning America, the Today show, CNN, NPR, and the BBC. She has written articles for numerous ancestry and genealogy publications. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Smolenyak writes enthusiastically and well. She is passionate about her subject and it shows.
In some ways, the book suffers for the same reasons that the TV show suffers: it makes it look too easy. This is probably unavoidable in a beginning guide or a popular TV show since covering all the caveats might turn off the audience. That said, I wish there had been at least some emphasis on how one might go about developing skills, such as taking classes (which are often free or inexpensive), attending conferences, etc. Also lacking is any meaningful discussion of evaluation of and analysis of all of the various pieces of evidence one finds; obviously this can't be done thoroughly in a book like this, but it should at least be addressed.
The author works for [...], the giant online genealogical service; although it is noted on the jacket blurb, in the interest of full disclosure she could have been a little more forthcoming about that relationship throughout the book when one of ancestry's features or databases takes center stage. Her recommendation of [...]'s member tree feature (as her first suggestion for software to use for your data) is ludicrous; I would be very surprised if that is her own database software of choice. (Save the comments: I'm a whole-world subscriber to ancestry.com and think it's a fabulous and essential resource.)
What I especially like about this book, in addition to the writing, is its begin-at-the-beginning approach (start with yourself and work back); this may seem obvious, but it's not obvious to many beginners. There is a good section on home sources, talking to relatives, etc. The record examples and illustrations are great: generally from the famous or infamous (Chef Boyardee and Al Capone, to name a couple). Smolenyak's chapter about her search for President Obama's Irish ancestors is one of the best parts of the book because it illustrates difficult aspects to resolving a genealogical problem and, in this case, doesn't make it look easy.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants to begin researching their family and to more experienced researchers who will probably find, as I did, some new (particularly online) resources.
I purchased this book a few weeks ago and have gone through it and find, because I have been at my research so long, it wasn't much help to me. If you are a new comer to genealogy then I would highly recommend it. All of the sources are there and the author does a good job of explaining how to use them. I was pleasantly surprised that the author did not just use her book as a shill for Ancestry.com. It appears that she is either a permanent, or sometime employee of the company, and the book cover also notes that the book is a companion for the TV series of the same name. The TV program is an offshoot of the website. I have never watched the program since it seems they only deal with celebraties and not just ordinary people like me.
Although I have not found much use for the book at the moment, I intend to hang on to it since I think it would be foolish to overlook some potential source that I haven't thought of in a while. As I stated earlier; if anyone has been at this type of research for any lenght of time, then they probably are well acquainted with all the sources described. On the other hand if someone is just starting out, then this book would be very helpful.
This book is the best, so much good information and so understandable. She actually explains DNA, both types for research on 2 pages. If you are interested in DNA this book sums it up in a very understandable form. Again I will say that she is the best that has come along to genealogy since I have been researching, and that says alot since I do not consider myself an amature. You will also love her book on serendipity. Therefore, stop looking for famous people and attaching your family to them, instead, start with yourself, and begin the fabulous journy called "Family". Most of all, be proud of who you are and who you find.
Megan's books are the best for helping you achive your genealogical adventure.