"Beyond the age of information is the age of choices." Charles Eames. Hartman, Carla and Eames Demetrios. 100 Quotes by Charles Eames, p. 40.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: Crash Course in Family History, 5th ed.

Larsen, Paul. Crash Course in Family History. 5th ed. St. George, Utah: EasyFamilyHistory.com, 2014. 344 pp. ISBN 978-1-937900-05-2, hardback, $39.95; ISBN 978-1-937900-09-0, eBook, $33.95.

What genealogist wouldn't want a book that promises  you can "build your family tree and connect to your ancestors" in just three easy steps?  Paul Larsen does just that in his 5th edition of Crash Course in Family History.

As in earlier editions, the book is also intended as a resource to be dipped into as research questions arise. Family historians with zero or limited background in genealogical research are Larsen's target audience. The format is appealing (though a little busy at times) with plentiful use of colorful illustrations, sidebars, and website links.  Given its hefty size and weight, you might decide to pass on the hardback and opt for the eBook instead--especially during research trips.

In 3 easy sentences, here are Larsen's 3 easy steps. Step 1 is to identify your ancestors by talking to relatives, networking online, and looking for distant cousins. Step 2 teaches you to extend and expand your family tree with basic census, immigration, military and other records. And, step 3 shows you how to connect with your ancestors by tapping into histories, family photos, and background information on places they lived.

There is more to the book, however. If your interest in genealogy has religious or spiritual origins, the many quotes from Mormon and other leaders will no doubt be inspiring. The author is also an advocate for the belief that deceased ancestors can guide genealogists' research. If you find these assumptions jarring, you will still gain from the solid information presented about genealogical research techniques and sources.  

I purchased a hardback edition of Crash Course in Family History for this review, although an ebook is available. Prices shown are from the publisher; other online vendors may offer discounts. Older editions are readily available at public libraries.