Special Book Review-October

 FACES OF AMERICA: HOW 12 EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE DISCOVERED THEIR PASTS by Henry Louis Gates Jr.  New York University Press, New York & London, 2010.          

 ISBN - 978-0-8147-3264-0 . E-Book- ISBN 978-0-8147-32. DNA Appendix by Dr.  Nathan Pearson. Index. 277 p.    

By Marti Rasmussen

  In this companion book to the PBS TV program,  Faces of America, host, Henry Louis Gates Jr, director of the W.E B. DuBois Institute  for African and African American Researchand Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard, discusses the genealogy of the12 celebrity guests on the program. The guests were: Elizabeth Alexander, Mario Batali, Stephen Colbert, Louise Erdrich, Malcolm Gladwell, Eva Longoria, Yo-Yo Ma, Mike Nickols, Queen Noor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Meryl Streep, and Kristi Yamaguchi. Gates devotes a chapter to each person and discusses what researchers found about the family; what they did not find, how the individual persons fit into historical context and how it affected the guests.

An added feature is the discussion within each chapter of the DNA test results from several ways to use it for that person's family history. The chapters are arranged by the celebrity’s birth year so that the family information takes the reader back in time as Gates explains how and why the findings could be important clues to further family history information. He makes an effort to clear distinctions between the different kinds of DNA results available.

This book is an additional resource to the DVD collection of the TV programs which had limited time to present the information collected for each guest about his/her family. Quotes from each individual taking part in the project are used to share the feelings and thoughts the guests have about what they learned about their family history. Both the programs and the book offer amateur genealogists a way to see how Gates and his researchers approached certain types of problems that turned up and how they started to unravel the mysteries --- a great reward for viewers/readers as well as the celebrities in the project.

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Bookcover for Faces of Ameica by Henry Louis Gates Jr.,, host of PBS TV Program of the same title 92kv. 1Sep 3, 2011 5:22 PM