Saturday, June 15, 2013

Annie’s Ghosts

I just finished reading Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg and I highly recommend it.  The author is the senior editor of the Washington Post and not a genealogist, well, I guess he is now.  He found out about a secret in his family and he decided to investigate it.  The book chronicles his journey to discover the truth. 

The book is very well-written, not surprising considering Steve’s occupation.  Steve starts out not knowing anything about genealogy, research methods or repositories/document sets.  It is interesting to watch how learns through trial and error.  You will learn a lot of history pertaining to the treatment of mentally retarded persons and those suffering from mental illness back in the 1920s-1970s, both by the system and by society.  You will also learn some history about the atrocities suffered by Jews during the Holocaust.  This is an excellent example of an in depth case study in a non technical format.  I could not put this book down. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Michele, I too really enjoyed Annie's Ghost. I was intrigued by his use of investigative journalism techniques to do genealogy. For example, he did not hesitate to get court orders, which I've never even considered. Also, I was fascinated by the emotions on all sides in keeping family secrets - betrayal, shame, fear. He has powerful messages and tells them well.

  2. I was amazed that he actually received the court orders! Usually when medical records are involved you have to have a compelling reason. I was surprised that he didn't try and get it based on needed to know for hereditary/genetic reasons but whatever he did worked.