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Shaking the Family Tree    by Buzzy Jackson order for
Shaking the Family Tree
by Buzzy Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Although there has always been interest in tracing one's family roots, it is only recently that genealogy has moved from its quaint hobby status to an obsessive, data crunching pastime.

Historian Buzzy Jackson takes the reader on an odyssey that stretches from a genealogy workshop aboard a Caribbean cruise ship to the vast Family History Library in Salt Lake City. As she invites us to accompany her as she traces her own family roots, the author explains some of the basic ins and outs of such research.

You'll discover what constitutes good and bad genealogy. 'Bad genealogy is the kind of family-tree keeping that everyone used to do and many still practice,' writes Jackson. 'It's the making of pedigrees without substantiating Grandpa's stories. It's accepting that what is written in the family Bible is The Truth. It's genealogy without footnotes.'

Jackson explains how to avoid bad genealogy in this entertaining narrative that discusses DNA testing, the various approaches to delving into a family's past, and the avenues of research available to the genealogist.

A book like this will be appreciated by the novice or individual who has been toying with the idea of beginning such a quest. I think that although he/she may find the book amusing, accomplished genealogists who have been at it for a while will not learn anything new as they read this volume.

Although I enjoyed Jackson's folksy approach and the information she provided (especially the helpful genealogy Websites), I have to admit the author's continual reference to her Ph.D. in history became a bit irksome.

There really wasn't any reason to keep reminding the reader that she had attended UC Berkeley where she slaved for seven years. Bravo, Jackson! But, quite frankly, there are a lot of us Old Blues, but, although we are a proud group of battle tested grads, most of us don't feel obliged to broadcast this fact to rest of the world.

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