As I mentioned last post, our family is once again in the middle of a Permanent Change of Station move with the military. Last weekend, we packed up the cars and hit the road with our two kids, dog and essential belongings. Several times in the week or so before we left, I attempted and failed to find the perfect audiobook for the road trip. I wanted something that would help keep me awake – like a mystery– but nothing too dark or depressing. I also wanted something somewhat intellectual. Bonus points if it was historical, but I doubted I would be able to find something that fit all of these criteria AND be historical. I thought briefly about looking for something in the genealogical realm, but assumed that most genealogical books would be more methodological and therefore require too much concentration to fit the “help keep me awake” bill.
Time and again, I would spend time browsing, only to close my computer in frustration. Finally, I had almost settled on Agatha Christies, And Then There Were None, knowing it would be entertaining and telling myself that because it is considered a pop culture classic, I would be contributing to my education by reading it.
The next day, an ad for The Foundling popped up on my Facebook page. I knew it was exactly what I had hoped to find. Not only was it THE PERFECT road trip book, but not since I read Annie’s Ghosts had I found a book so wonderfully interesting — albeit tragic –entertaining and still educational – especially as it pertains to genealogy.
If you have any interest in genealogy, or simply appreciate a good read, go check out Paul Joseph Fronczak’s The Foundling. Here are just a few reasons why I think you should.
- It’s a page-turner for sure. Even from the prologue I was hooked, anticipating the “rest of the story.” Actually, I equally and simultaneously looked-forward-to and dreaded the ending. I wanted to find out what happened, but knew that once I did, there would be no more of this amazing book to read. I don’t remember the last time I felt that way about a book.
- It’s a true story as told by the person who lived it. If you are a genealogist, you know how truth can be stranger than fiction. This story reads like something made up by a New York Times best-selling mystery author, but the factuality of it all makes it that much more compelling.
- It involves Chicago history. You guys all know I’ve got a soft spot for the City that so many of my (and my readers’) ancestors called home. This book shares the details of a 1963 kidnapping and the frenetic search that followed. The Chicago PD worked tirelessly tracking down leads and questioning individuals who might fit the profile of the kidnapper. While I don’t know much about his day to day work in those days, I do know that one of those Chicago Police Officers was my grandfather.
- It will give you a crash course in genetic genealogy. Guys, I’m the first to admit that the DNA side of genealogical research intimidates me. It always just seemed a bit too scientific for this right-sided brain of mine. BUT after reading The Foundling, I feel like I have a much stronger grasp of the basics. If you, like me, are hesitant to take a DNA course, I suggest you start here. You might be surprised.
- It validates the work of professional genealogists. If there is any question in your mind, this book should erase all doubt on two matters as it relates to professional genealogy. First, the work we do matters. Second, genealogists are not in this field for the money.
- It will encourage you to make that “Cold Call.” Yes, even in the 21st century, sometimes the BEST way to get answers is to simply pick of the phone and call a stranger. The genealogy team which played an integral part in this story used this strategy a lot – and the reading between the lines, I would say they were very good at it. If you are anything like me, the very idea might make your palms sweaty and your heart race. But, if you really want answers, you might just have to pick up the phone.
Have you read The Foundling? It really is THAT good, right?!