Thursday, January 7, 2010

What does a genealogist read on vacation?

I decided to go technology free for two weeks while on vacation over Christmas, and it was great to get back into the reading habit. Now I know why it’s so hard to find time to finish a book lately, between life and the lures of Facebook, email, blogging, genealogy files, RAOGK, etc. etc. So, I took several books with me on vacation, several to finish and others I started and finished while on the beach. It was quite relaxing, being “unplugged” for two weeks.

1.) “The Hemings of Monticello: An American Family” by Annette Gordon-Reed, 2008 I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time, after reading another book about Sally Hemings. It’s sat on my bedside table holding up several other books for a while. I love a book that starts and ends with lots of genealogy charts! You all know the story, but Gordon-Reed gives you all the details and more since she is both a historian and legal scholar.

2.) “The Angel Gabriel: The Elusive English Galleon” by Warren C. Riess, 2001 I picked up this autographed copy of the book at the gift shop at Pemaquid, Maine, where the shipwreck of the Angel Gabriel occurred. I had perused it before to pull out genealogical tidbits for my files, but this time I read it cover to cover. It was a real page turner for me since I’m the descendant of several survivors, but it would be equally interesting to any genealogist, marine historian or treasure hunter. Riess is a marine archeologist, searching for the wreck near Pemaquid.

3.) “I’ll Tell You the Story” by Fritz Wetherbee, 2006- Fritz is my all time favorite voice of New Hampshire, and this is a collection of interesting historical stories taken from his bits on WMUR TVs “New Hampshire Chronicle.” He gave me several ideas for blogs amongst these stories, which I must research genealogically, so my copy is bursting with post it notes and slips of paper with notes. This is the type of book that makes you laugh and all the other people on the beach or on the plane think you’ve gone nutty!

4.) “Here I Shall Die Ashore”, by Caleb Johnson, 2007- This was by far my very favorite book of the bunch, and one I started to re-read on the plane when I had finished everything else in my carryon bag. It is the story of Stephen Hopkins. He was a 1609 castaway on Bermuda, a Jamestown survivor, had his character written into a Shakespeare play (Stefano of “The Tempest”), a Mayflower passenger and survivor of the first winter in Plymouth, etc. etc. This guy did it all! As an experienced adventurer he was chosen out of all the Pilgrims to present the Sachem Massasoit gifts of friendship that lead to the fifty year peace between the Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag nation. This is a must read for genealogists and colonial American history buffs. Hopkins’ story would make a great action adventure movie!

Unfinished Reading: “Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America’s First Spy” by M. William Phelps, and my third reading of “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott since I was in high school.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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