Smith, Gordon Burns. History of the Georgia Militia, 1783–1861.

4v. Milledgeville, GA: Boyd Publishing, 2000–1. Hardcover. Index. ISBN 1-890307-32-7. (PO Box 367, Milledgeville, GA 31061 / <tignall@accucomm.net>)

There have traditionally been three schools of thought about the antebellum State militias in the South. Some historians have treated them as a joke, a haven for those who wanted only to carouse and get drunk. Others consider it as primarily an paranoid institution organized to enforce slavery. Most historians, however, have simply ignored the militia.

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Published in: on 22 June 2011 at 6:36 am  Comments (2)  
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Early, Joseph E., Jr. A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook.

Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2004. 676p., hardcover. Index. $29.95. ISBN 1-57441-176-4.

Early is a professor of religion at Cumberland College and the author of two previous books on the history of the Baptist denomination in Texas. This one is meant as a complementary volume to Harry McBeth’s Texas Baptists: A Sesquicentennial History (1998), currently the standard historical survey.

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Published in: on 8 June 2011 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Isle of Canes.

Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2004. 583p., hardcover. Illus, maps. $24.95. ISBN 1-59331-175-3.

When one of the leading figures in our profession/avocation publishes a new book, a reviewer’s interest is automatic and immediate. But when the author is justifiably renowned for historical methodology and for compilation and interpretation of resources, and the new volume is a work of fiction, . . . well, one must admit to a bit of trepidation.

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Published in: on 15 May 2011 at 4:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Richardson, Douglas. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families.

Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004. xxix, 945p., hardcover. Index, illus. $85.00. ISBN 0-8063-1750-7.

Even though I do not, to my knowledge, have a single drop of royal blood in my veins, I have a longstanding interest in peerage genealogy — if only because the earliest surviving records concern the lineages of European society’s movers and shakers, not the yeoman farmers and small tradesmen whose genes I carry. Richardson is well known and widely respected in this field, having published numerous peerage articles in the most respected journals and having been a contributor to the last couple of editions of Weis. Those of us who hang out on the <soc.genealogy.medieval> newsgroup on Usenet have watched for years as this massive work took shape (always keeping in mind that the level of discourse in that venue often verges on the sophomoric).

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Published in: on 2 February 2010 at 3:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Davis, William C. The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf.

San Diego: Harcourt, 2005. 706p., hardcover. Index, illus, maps. $28.00. ISBN 0-15-100403-X.

In Louisiana, both historians — academic and “hobbyist” — and genealogists have long been interested in Jean Laffite (or Lafitte) and his brother Pierre, their activities around Barataria, and especially their part in the Battle of New Orleans. Over the years, beginning in the mid-19th century, many biographies of the Lafitte boys have been written, several “true” personal memoirs have been published, and a great many researchers have taken up one theory or another regarding their origins and eventual deaths. One of the best-known is Lyle Saxon’s Laffite the Pirate, published in 1930, but while it’s an entertaining book, Saxon’s sources are as questionable as any other author’s. With the publication of this new work, however, the whole Laffite story enters a new and more respectable phase.

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Published in: on 16 January 2010 at 9:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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Yalom, Marilyn. The American Resting Place: Four Hundred Years of History through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. 336p., hardcover. Index, illus. $30.00. ISBN 0-618-62427-0.

Non-genealogists are apt not to understand why we come back from a vacation, and the only pictures in the camera are of tombs and grave markers. Cemeteries are fascinating places to those who research the history of their families. But they’re also an intimate ingredient in American cultural history. As families of varying ethnic origins migrated west (or north), they took their burial traditions with them, which means there’s not much that a colonial burying ground in Connecticut, a Hispanic cemetery in San Antonio, and a rural church graveyard in Missouri have in common — at least on the surface. (more…)

Published in: on 12 January 2010 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment