A sharp yet understanding guide to high-quality documentation of family history that proceeds with heart, logic and...



A how-to guide based on the idea that recorded narratives from elders are of long-lasting value to the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews who will outlive their family’s great storytellers.

Sargent-Hamill’s credentials (a bachelor’s degree in gerontology) and her practice as an independent filmmaker manifest in her heart-and-mind approach to shooting a dynamic video interview. While she relays personal anecdotes of how meaningful these late-in-life documentaries have proven to be, the author also discusses practical matters—such as headroom and symmetrical balance of a shot—that even the best-intentioned amateur videographer may not consider. Structurally, the information in the “Develop the Concept” chapter that opens Section 2 (“Things to Consider Before You Begin) would be more useful if it preceded, or was woven into, Section 1, which is concerned solely with project development. The rest of the book, however, benefits from a smooth, resourceful organization of ideas and exercises. The “Evaluate Your Electronic Equipment” section is thorough while managing to abide by simple terminology that even those aloof to digital technology will comprehend. Sargent-Hamill takes into account many before-the-interview details in a streamlined manner with details such as addressing personal discomfort of interviewees and checking the interview site for the best seating arrangement respective of a pleasant but not overwhelming background, finding ideal lighting and unobtrusive ambient noise, etc. While she provides examples of specific questions to ask, along with a sample genealogy-based interview outline, she also recommends preinterview chats to obtain the nitty-gritty information that can shape, or at least fine-tune, the interview structure. The book also covers supplementary or substitute methods of chronicling loved ones’ lives—photo journaling, exploring community archives and interviewing those whose lives were impacted for the better by the documentary subjects. Near the end of her book, Sargent-Hamill offers some basic tips on editing, pointing readers in the direction of medium-specific resource guides.

A sharp yet understanding guide to high-quality documentation of family history that proceeds with heart, logic and efficiency.

Pub Date: June 10, 2010

ISBN: 978-1439271162

Page Count: 133

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2011

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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