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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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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