I don't recall ever seeing a "book of book reviews" before. However, I saw one just this week and can report that it is impressive. The British Genealogist's Library is billed as "collected book and media reviews from the BIGWILL newsletter appropriate for anyone searching for ancestors in England, Scotland, Ireland, or Wales, or their descendants throughout the world."
The British Genealogist's Library contains book reviews written by Paul Milner, an expert in genealogy research in the British Isles. Paul has been writing these reviews for many years for BIGWILL, the British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois. The reviews have been published in the BIGWILL newsletter and have received praises from many of those who read the reviews. Now the BIGWILL newsletter editor, David Dexter, has collected all the reviews and published them in one book, making these valuable reviews available to a much wider audience.
The reviews contained in this new publication cover many of the major books available today, as well as many "specialty" books from tiny publishers. Without this book, anyone interested in genealogy in the British Isles would be hard pressed to find even a simple list of all these books - much less full descriptions of each - written by an expert.
Here is the Table of Contents for The British Genealogist's Library:
- Map of Great Britain
- Section 1: General Guide to Research in the British Isles
- Section 2: General Reference Books
- Section 3: Finding and Using Specific Records: The Census, Wills, Probate, Poor Laws & More
- Section 4: Learning About Your Military Ancestors
- Section 5: Irish Ancestry
- Section 6: Scottish Ancestry
- Section 7: Welsh Ancestry
- Section 8: English Ancestry: Greater London
- Section 9: English Ancestry: The Southwest
- Section 10: English Ancestry: The Southeast
- Section 11: English Ancestry: The Midlands
- Section 12: English Ancestry: The North
- Section 13: The British in North America
- Section 14: The Irish in North America
- Section 15: The Scots in North America
- Section 16: The Scots-Irish
- Section 17: Pedigrees, Heraldry, and Royalty
- Section 18: Miscellaneous Books of Interested
- Index of Books by Title
- Index of Books by Author
Each review is written in the traditional manner, showing the full title, author's name, publisher's name and address, number of pages, and purchase price. This information is followed by a description of the book's contents, along with Paul Milner's assessment of the strengths or weaknesses of the book. Most of the reviews were for books although I did see a few for magazines and several reviews of CD-ROM disks.
The reviews cover books from authors and publishers all over the British Isles as well others from the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Scanning through this book of book reviews will produce gems that you might never have heard of otherwise. For instance, if your ancestor was an innkeeper in Adderbury, you will want to order the book, The Licencees of the Inns, Taverns and Beerhouses of Adderbury & Milton, Oxfordshire, compiled by Vera Wood. Paul Milner starts with a description of the book's contents and ends with, "This is a well-illustrated book focusing on one aspect of village life in a specific location in north Oxfordshire. The wide variety of sources used shows what can be done to reconstruct a community. There is no index to the individuals in this book."
That is but one example of the hundred or more book reviews contained in The British Genealogist's Library.
Paul Milner is highly qualified to write these reviews. A native of northern England, Paul now lives in Illinois. He is a professional genealogist, author, and lecturer. He has specialized in British Isles genealogical research for 25 years. Paul has been designing workshops and lecturing to a wide variety of audiences for over 30 years.
He is the co-author with Linda Jonas of A Genealogists Guide to Discovering Your English Ancestors: How to find and record your unique heritage (2000), and A Genealogists Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors: How to find and record your unique heritage (2002), both published by Betterway Books
As a genealogist, Paul speaks on a variety of topics relating to research in the British Isles and research methodology. Paul is currently a board member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He is the past-president of the British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois (BIGWILL) and a past board member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Genealogical Speakers Guild.
He is the book review editor for the FGS FORUM and the BIGWILL newsletter, plus a member of several English Family History Societies.
All in all, The British Genealogist's Library is a great resource for anyone researching ancestors in the British Isles. While printed in the United States, I suspect this book of book reviews will sell well in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere.
The British Genealogist's Library sells for $27.95 plus $3.00 shipping to addresses in the United States. It is available directly from BIGWILL, PO Box 192, Richmond, IL 60071. I would suggest that anyone outside the United States should first contact the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org for an exact price quote that includes shipping charges.