You've heard of the Dog Whisperer? Meet the Ancestor Rescuer.
forensic scientist, part master sleuth, Megan Smolenyak2 has solved
some of America's oldest and most fascinating genealogical mysteries.
You've read the headlines; now get the inside story as the "Indiana
Jones of genealogy" reveals how she cracked her news-making cases,
became the face of this increasingly popular field—and redefined history
along the way.
How did Smolenyak2 discover Barack Obama's Irish
ancestry—and his relation to Brad Pitt? Or the journey of Michelle
Obama's family from slavery to the White House? Or the startling links
between outspoken politicians Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond? And why is
Smolenyak2's name squared? Test your own skills as she shares her
Whether she's scouring websites to uncover the
surprising connections between famous figures or using cutting-edge DNA
tests to locate family members of fallen soldiers dating back to the
Civil War, Smolenyak2's historical sleuthing is as provocative, richly
layered, and exciting as America itself.
"Thank you for taking
the time to lay out our family map… You're practically family. You
certainly know more about us than we do." –Stephen Colbert
"Megan is a genealogist's dream, a forensic investigator who can also tell a great story." –Sam Roberts, The New York Times
is a blessing to cold case detectives and a master genealogist." –Julie
M. Haney, special agent, NCIS Cold Case Homicide Unit
"The Indiana Jones of genealogy… Megan Smolenyak is a national treasure."
–Buzzy Jackson, author of Shaking the Family Tree
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“Who’s on the Branches of Your Family Tree?”
(Monday, February 20, 2012)
Reviewer: Nancy Narma
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 against the proverbial brick wall. You do, however, have to have patience and the willingness to explore avenues you had never even considered. I have been a fan of Ms. Smolenyak2’s for quite some time due to her previous book, “Who Do You Think You Are?” that serves as a guide to the fascinating NBC series of the same name. She has enlightened me in several areas of my quest and has answered questions I have pondered for quite some time while researching my Grandparents who immigrated from Scotland in 1892. For example, contrary to family beliefs, my Grandfather’s surname was not changed at his port of entry—he did it himself. I’ll never know his reasoning but it sure has made it easier to track him down! The Author has explained through several examples how DNA was one of the key investigative methods used to uncover complicated answers about some famous individuals’ heritage. I was truly mesmerized as I followed Ms. Smolenyak2 through darkened paths, misleading avenues and age-old pages of smeared ink to find the First Lady’s Great, Great, Great Grandmother. I do believe there is a tie for my particular favorites in this volume—the genealogical journey of the Paralyzed Prostitute and the spellbinding history of the first person to arrive at Ellis Island; an Irish lass by the name of Annie Moore. But those are only two of the amazing tidbits that will be revealed to you. Thank-you Ms. Smolenyak2 for such guidance and encouragement. As I close the cover on this review, I am preparing to return to the 1930 Census records to learn more about my ancestors’ journey to and life in America. If you have any interest in genealogical research, don’t miss this book! I know you will enjoy it and keep referring to it for inspiration and information as much as I have. Nancy Narma