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Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  294 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Hit shows like "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "History Detectives" demonstrate that people are fascinated by family origins. Here, America's top genealogist reveals how she's made headlines solving genealogical puzzles with entertaining, revealing, and controversial candor.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Citadel (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Julie Ivens
A really interesting read. Shows you some of the crazy/fascinating stories the author has uncovered using genealogy tricks. The author covers a very wide range of subject matter, and almost every chapter was interesting to me, though I preferred the stories involving previously unknown people as opposed to the super well knowns (the presidential chapters). I think this book would appeal to genealogy nerds such as myself as well as people who normally would not be so into genealogy-she makes it i ...more
Charlene
Not only does Megan Smolenyak offer many tips for amateur genealogists (spell it with an "a"), she amazes and amuses readers with tales of her own searches. A fan of long-time fan of Henry Louis Gates' PBS shows, I also began watching "Who Do You Think You Are?" and discovered Megan. I smiled my way through her book which shares the hit TV show's title.

In the meantime, I recently spent two weeks of vacation on "me" time and dove into Ancestry.com. My 83-year-old father's mother died in Californ
...more
Kermit
4.1 stars

It's a book about genealogy, and I'm not the one in my family who does or enjoys working on family history---that's my husband. Nevertheless, this book was fun to read.

It's mostly the author's work for the government/military that I found interesting. She also researches the family history of celebrities---and I'm not interested one iota in that.

She does forensic genealogy to locate the relatives of men and women who were POWs or MIA. If remains of a soldier from World War II or the Ko
...more
Notetaker
Fast paced real life stories of this renown Genealogist's work. Ms. Smolenyak's was kind enough to share interesting examples of her work experience with such chapter titles as Grandma Stepped Out (her own Family), the Paralyzed Prostitute to the Al Sharpton & Strom Thurmond Family connections. It is not a how-to book on Genealogy, however, with that said it gives the reader several examples why Genealogists are much more than just Family Tree makers.
Sunny
This book is part professional memoir, part essay: a peek over the shoulder into the daily life of one of the more famous genealogists in the U.S. It's a great bedtime read, because each chapter is fairly self-contained.

The story that's stayed with me the longest is the opening chapter on repatriating soldiers' remains. While giving me an insider's look at that grueling and grim task, she keeps a sense of humor and a larger sense of perspective. And her stories are as freshly about the present
...more
MissSusie
I found this book interesting but I do want to stress this book will not tell you how to search on your own it is written by a veteran genealogist about some of the cases she has worked on. Okay now that I have that out of the way… this book was with fun all the stories and history.

I found it very interesting that the First Lady Michelle Obama’s family only took 3 generations to go from slaves to the white house I found that fascinating because I come from a family that had 5 generations living
...more
Nancy Narma
“Who’s on the Branches of Your Family Tree?”

I have always had an interest in my family’s history and Ms. Smolenyak2 ( you read it correctly--Smolenyak “squared”—you’ll find out why, if you read the book) has heightened my curiosity and has taught me, among other information, that although some paths may be difficult to follow due to misspellings, name changes, misinterpretations by those who gathered information at ports of entry, etc. decades ago—it is not impossible and you don’t always run up
...more
Doug Dams
This was a fun book to read. Megan Smolenyak is a genealogist who has used her genealogy skills to help a number of other people. In this book she describes many of her "history-mystery" cases she has helped solve. Besides genealogy, Megan has worked with the Army to identify the next of kin for remains found from WWI, WWII, Korean, Vietnam wars. She's also found next of kin for FBI cold cases and NCIS cold cases. The stories in each chapter are fascinating as a history lesson as well as showing ...more
Lnlisa
A really interesting book to read. Megan is a genealogy detective. She has worked for Ancestry.com and more recently the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are.

In this book, she shares her adventures detecting in the field of genealogy. Each chapter covers a field or type of genealogy detecting that she does. For example, the first chapter is about her work finding the next of kin for soldiers who died in WW II, Korea, Vietnam, etc. Another chapter is about help she has been able to give to those wh
...more
Robin
Jan 28, 2012 Robin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who is into Genealogy
Recommended to Robin by: Me, Myself and I
In her book, Hey America, Your Roots are Showing, Megan Smolenyak discusses her many genealogical adventures. She explores the variety of types of research as well as diminishing the very thing that makes one squeal with delight: the famous ancestor and/or cousin. Her thoughts on that? So what? Everyone does.

Smolenyak brings realism to genealogy. It is not as easy as it looks on Who Do You Think You Are and there are many roadblocks as well as frustration at others who make untrue and unsourced
...more
Charlotte
I just finished this book and immediately searched for more books by this author. I had already read her book, Who Do You Think You Are? It was good, but I think Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing is even better.

Having Sherlockian tendencies certainly is a boon to genealogy fans. I appreciated the detail this author gives her readers, letting us know step-by-step how she finds her answers. She also warns us not to accept too quickly what we find because it may not be accurate.

This book is ente
...more
Louise
Part memoir, part detective story, part American History 101 recap -- and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm afraid the author did quite a bit of "tooting her own horn" but I can't blame her too much for that. She has had a very interesting career, after all. Even though it isn't a genealogy how-to book, I did pick up a few incidental tips here and there. I only wish the author had focused a little less on celebrity stories and a little more on some of the random, unexpected things she found for somew ...more
Linda Hartlaub
A fast read that is entertaining, with short stories about the field of genealogy and also how genealogists can aid in detective work to solve mysteries with respect to MIA/POWs, unclaimed persons, and NCIS and police cold cases. Fascinating even for non-genealogists.
Bhan13
Written in a very casual tone and could have used an editor to correct some small mistakes, but so useful! Take notes while reading about her experiences because there's no index.
Juliana Haught
My great-aunt was a genealogist, and I've dabbled a bit in it because of her, so I was instantly intrigued to find a book that was written by a genealogist about some of her searches. I found it very interesting to read about as a series of stories, but also helpful in that I got some ideas about how to explore some things a little differently with all the recent tools available to us with the internet. More and more information gets digitized and loaded online, so searching for traces of ancest ...more
Rachelle
Megan Smolenyak is not only a great genealogist, but an excellent story teller. She made national news when she located Barack Obama's Irish roots, but the media has her on speed dial for a long time when it comes to finding out genealogical background for a story. But it wasn't just the famous people she made interesting; I loved how she worked on old FBI Civil Rights murders and locating the living descendants of MIA's who's bodies were discovered in Korea, Vietnam etc. If you are a genealogis ...more
Rachel Granholm
This is what history should be. Beautifully written, great characters and plot twists.
Christopher Newton
Disappointing - a very long commercial for the author's wonderfulness.
Darlene
Megan's books really make for interesting reading with lots of stories. She breaks things down so you understand what she did and why
Barbara
I loved this book! As a rather sedate and serious family historian, I found Megan Smolenyak's enthusiasm for solving genealogical mysteries and her boundless energy very contagious. Especially fascinating were her examples of how DNA testing can supplement research efforts made along the paper trail. This book has done much to make the genealogy of ordinary people and their places in history less stuffy and more compelling than ever. I cannot wait to tackle my own research with a renewed sense o ...more
Kara
I really really enjoyed this book but minus 1 star for the following:

1) Despite her claims that she is more interested in the 'everyman,' the author devotes many chapters to tracking genealogy of well known personalities.

2) There were several cringe-worthy lines where she seemed to awkwardly toot her own horn.

3) I am insanely jealous as this is essentially my dream job.

But really it is a great book that truly shows the heart of genealogical research: the life behind the names, dates, and places.
Beth
Since I've seen Megan speak on numerous occasions I've heard a lot of the stories she relays in this book. the great thing about that is, I can tell you she writes like she speaks, I can hear her voice in my head when I read this book. I also like how she shows how versatile and useful genealogy is in the every day world. why its useful to so many organizations, like, police, coroners, etc. as well as to people just looking for family or medical answers. Nice fairly quick read, worth your time.
Dominic
As the family genealogist, I was immediately drawn to this book. I knew Megan was the country's foremost genealogist and would give a unique look into her world of research. From the moment I picked it up, I was unable to put it down. My favorite stories were the ones about No Man Left Behind, the Paralyzed Prostitute and Grandma Stepped out. In the process of the read, I picked up some tips that I feel will help benefit my own research. I cannot wait to read more from Megan.
Rachel
I really enjoyed reading selected case-stories of Megan's in-depth genealogical research. Even though I'm a New Zealander, I felt I still got something out of reading these U.S.A.-based case-stories, even though the resources and laws surrounding access to records was a little hard to follow. It would be great to have something similar with a NZ focus... though, of course, that will probably never happen : ( Still, a fascinating book!
Colette
Jun 13, 2012 Colette rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Colette by: Mom
If you like getting cornered by that elderly genealogist who talks your ear off about all their cases, you'll love this book. Oh yeah, and the genealogist is trying to drum up more business. In parts this sounded a little like a cover letter for a resume. Some of the methodology was interesting, but I couldn't get past the Smolenyak's style, as well as her use of cliches.
Kim
I want Megan Smolenyak's career(s). I absolutely love researching genealogy; it's addictive detective work. If I'm ever awake past midnight, you can almost guarantee I'm on my computer doing family history research. So, for all people share my passion, this is an inspiring, fun read. I loved her easy & witty style of writing, too.
Laura
Anyone who likes genealogy research will enjoy this book and I think a lot of others who enjoy history and stories of people will enjoy it too. Every chapter is a different story. It is not heavy on research methods, but rather on the interesting stories of people's lives and how Megan Smolenyak tracks them down. Who knew that genealogy could be so intersting!
Shirley Brown
I thought this was going to be a book about African American's genealogy and it was to a certain extent, but the stories were quite interesting. I think the author was self-serving, which I didn't like, because I think the work she did would have stood by itself, and she didn't need to tell how wonderful she was. Her actual work is impecable and thorough.
Carole
This was a most interesting book by one of the country's best genealogists. Each chapter stands alone as she tells about various projects she has worked on from tracing celebrities family trees to finding next of kin for unclaimed bodies. Her work has taken her all over and included many TV appearances. She is an inspiration with an impressive resume.
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from back of the book:
Megan Smolenyak is an incurable genealogist who loves solving mysteries, making unexpected discoveries, and pushing the boundaries of conventional genealogy. A popular writer, speaker, and TV guest, she does all she can to get the g-word out there and inspire others in their quest for roots.

She lives in southern New Jersey with her husband.
More about Megan Smolenyak...
Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree In Search of Our Ancestors Honoring Our Ancestors: Inspiring Stories of the Quest for Our Roots

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“History is written by the victors, which is certainly true, but it's also written by the wealthy and the literate.” 2 likes
“In a period of less than 150 years, to progress from slavery to Pennsylvania Avenue speaks volumes about this family and our nation. Distracted by the rush of our everyday life, we might shrug it off today, but 100 years from now, historians will be discussing this precedent.” 0 likes
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