Reviews for Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing
Booklist Reviews 2012 January #1
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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 November #1
History's mysteries solved by a dogged genealogist. Readers may recognize Smolenyak (Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family's History, 2010, etc.) from her many TV and radio appearances discussing her instrumental role nailing down Barack Obama's Irish roots, researching the First Lady's family tree or establishing the Reverend Al Sharpton's slave ancestors as the property of the notorious segregationist Strom Thurmond's family. She's generated a slew of other headline-grabbing articles that help fill in the crevices of American history: identifying the real Annie Moore, Ellis Island's first immigrant, or recovering the life story of Philip Reed, the former slave responsible for the casting the bronze statue of Freedom atop the nation's Capitol. Sometimes, the historical riddle lies in an artifact. What's the story behind a Yiddish inscribed tombstone found leaning against a fire hydrant on the Lower East Side? What's the provenance of a Bible rescued from a Civil War battlefield? In this breezy narrative, Smolenyak supplies the back story to these and other investigations, allowing us to look over the shoulder of a relentless genealogist as she works the puzzle pieces of her craft. More commonly, she's busy finding the "primary next of kin" for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, putting medical examiners in touch with the families of unclaimed persons, helping the FBI revisit troubling cases of racially motivated homicide during the civil-rights era or assisting everyday folks with their adoption searches. Whether unearthing evidence from Internet databases, newspaper offices, court houses, libraries and cemeteries, consulting translators, historians or her vast network of fellow genealogists, pioneering the use of genealogical DNA testing, solving the mystery or occasionally hitting a brick wall, Smolenyak remains wholly committed, curious and cheery (exclamation marks abound), eager to share her methods and excitement. Bottom-up history from a top-shelf researcher. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.