Thursday, August 03, 2006

Carnival of Genealogy, 5th Edition

Welcome to the August 4, 2006 edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic for this edition of the Carnival is Historical Fiction. And starting us out today we have a submission from Randy Seaver, a genealogy blogger from California.
Randy Seaver presents Genea-Musings: Book Review - "Mayflower" posted at Genea-Musings. Randy clearly enjoyed this book and shares what he learned with us. The title of the book gives away the topic. It's one that provides insight into the lives of some of America's earliest immigrants. Thanks Randy! We appreciate your contribution to the Carnival and hope to hear more from you!
Any historical fiction that describes the time and place your ancestors lived is fiction with a genealogical flavor, for you. Writers of historical fiction often research their books for years before they write them. While the characters may be fictional they may also be based on real people. The range of historical fiction that is valuable to genealogists is huge. Not only can it give us contextual clues to the lives of people in a given time and place but it can give color and emotion to facts we might otherwise find tedious.

Take for instance, the Civil War. I learned about the Civil War in high school but what I learned about it amounted to a timeline of battles and the names of some key military figures. It wasn't until I read Gone With the Wind that the Civil War came to life for me. Margaret Mitchell painted a picture with her words and brought to life that era for me. Katherine also learned something different from the book. She reviews the book on her blog:
The Whispering Rose: Book Review - Gone with the Wind:
The book is very accurate as far as I can tell with regards to its geographical and historical references. It would be a wonderful supplement to any study on the Civil War. I was taught the Civil War primarily from a northern perspective. While certainly slavery is evil, I found it interesting to understand that the South was not simply fighting for its property but for its way of life as it knew it.
Another classic piece of historical fiction that brings color and drama to the lives of some people's ancestors is the masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. The story is set during the the first half of the 1900s in Russia. If your ancestors were Russian, this book will tell you a lot about their lives back then. It's reviewed by blogger Vivek Sharma:
Random Thoughts of a Chaotic Being!: Book Review: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak:
It is one of those novels from last century that everyone must read. The ghosts of socialism and Marxism, the excesses that occured in name of revolution, the transformation of the largest country of the world from ceturies old system into a failed ideal: the novel has enough historical significance. Last century was guided, molded, scarred, decorated and defined by the events and ideas that crop up as part of Doctor Zhivago's life. The literary underpinnings are gigantic: a love story with the Russian Revolution as background score: a Nobel was the least he could have got.
Those are two novels that come to mind off the top of my head. I must admit that I was hoping for more submissions to cover other times and places. My own ancestors immigrated to the U.S. from Poland so the historical fiction in my personal library is virtually all set in Poland. That being said, I'll share with you some of my favorite historical fiction that will enlighten those whose ancestors came from Poland...
Two recent posts of mine (July 23, 2006 and July 31, 2006) dealt with novels by James Martin. Push Not the River (PNTR), published in 2004, and Against a Crimson Sky (ACS), with a release date of August 8, 2006. Both are good examples of historical fiction set in Poland. PNTR takes place from 1779 to 1794 and covers the partitioning of Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. ACS takes the same characters from PNTR through till 1814. While reading each book, I couldn't help but glance at my family tree to see the names of my ancestors who would have lived during these times. It's helpful to link my ancestors to key events that would have happened during their lives. They become more than just names on the family tree. They become players in the drama even if their names aren't mentioned in the books.
Another favorite of mine is The Poles, by Susan Richard. This book is an oldie but a goodie published in 1984. It's out of print now but you can still find it at used book sales and online from used book sellers.
The Poles is a saga of the three Raisa brothers that starts out in Warsaw, Poland in 1889 and ends generations later in New York City at the end of World War II. Much of the book deals with the challenges the brothers faced as immigrants in a new land, with their religion, and their loyalties to their homeland. The historical settings include Warsaw, Poland; Castle Garden, New York; Fall River, Massachusetts; New York, New York; a battlefield in France; and Hollywood, California to name a few. It encompasses World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II... no small feat! This book introduced me to the struggles my grandparents had as Polish immigrants to the U.S.
A historical novel that was 38 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller's list was Poland, by James A. Michener. Anyone with ancestors from Poland will gain some good insight from this book. Patrick gives a review on his blog:
Poland, by James A. Michener: Poland:
Plot: For those of you who have read Michener in the past, the plot to this novel is not all that surprising. Michener follows his typical concept of following the history of an area or region through the personal histories of some local families. The families are fictional, but most of the events he relays are not. In this case he follows the history of the Buk, Bokowski, and Lubonski families through the history of Poland from 1241 to the present, as of when he wrote the novel, copyrighted 1983.
Yet another piece of historical fiction on my shelf is The View From Three Windows by Elaine Jagier Mark Shaw. This story is set in a Polish neighborhood in Chicago but it could just as easily have been my grandparents' neighborhood here in Detroit. I have two members on my family tree who died of TB. Reading this gave me some insight into what their life struggles might have been like. A reader reviews the book on The View from Three Windows: Books: Elaine J. Shaw:
This story centers around a young girl who finds out she has TB . It takes place during the first world war. It is a story of her struggle and her family's strong faith. It is also a love story and has a very interesting plot. The characters live in a Polish neighborhood and are themselves Polish. The Mother is similar to a "I Remember Mama " mother. An old fashioned story with some unusual twists.
A book not in my personal library but one I'd like to read one day soon is With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Here's a nice summary of the novel from B. Mirsky: So You'd Like to... find great historical fiction!: A guide by B. Mirsky, Novelist and Fan of Historical Fiction
Henryk Sienkiewicz, 'With Fire and Sword' recaptures the medieval flavor of the Cossack uprising against Polish overlords which marked, with blood, terror and no little recollected romanticism, the Russian struggles against an imperial Poland, reminding all of us that no nation has a monopoly on the imperialist motivation to conquer and dominate. This tale, recounts the travels, into the south from Poland, of four Polish knights errant who are caught up in the exploding situation of the Cossack rising.
In a recent 24-7 Family History Circle blog post Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak cited a couple of non-fiction books she felt were good "Genealogical Books in Disguise". At the end of her post she invited readers to comment on genealogical books in disguise they could recommend and she got a load of those. For a virtual "Carnival" on recommended books, check her post and the comments following it. They have a very broad range.

24-7 Family History Circle � Genealogical Books in Disguise, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak:
Genealogical Books in Disguise, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Over the last few months, I’ve been on another of my book binges – helplessly buying and reading countless books of a genealogical nature. I reported some of my reactions in Curl Up With a Genealogical Mystery and in Genealogical Cozies. Many of you were kind enough to share your remarks as well, so now I’m at it again.

Genealogical Non-Genealogy Books
Over the years, I’ve written a fair bit about actual genealogy books, mostly of a how-to nature. But this binge is different. I’m on a quest to find books that aren’t overtly genealogical, but that feature stories and themes that resonate with roots-seekers.
That's all for this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. If you'd like to recommend historical fiction books to others, feel free to do so using the comment link at the bottom of this post.

Calling for submissions! The topic for the next Carnival of Genealogy will be Genealogical and Historical Societies. If you belong to a society and have blogged about it please consider sharing your post. If you don't belong to a society, I'd like to know why not. There's an idea for a blog post... then share it with us of course! Membership in genealogical societies is declining. Do you have any ideas about why that might be or what can be done about it? Blog it, and share it here! The deadline for submissions for the next Carnival of Genealogy will be August 15, 2006. The next edition of the Carnival will be posted on August 18, 2006.

You can submit articals to the Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.