Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, April 28, 2012

By Faith Alone by Bill Griffeth (Book Review)

Griffeth, Bill. By Faith Alone: One Family's Epic Journey Through 400 Years of American Protestantism. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007.

CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth shares the story of his family's history in this short and highly readable volume. The author used sources from books to original records to the Internet in compiling his work, but the reader can tell that he has done his homework and that he has documented his research instead of simply relying on undocumented published trees. He has made extensive use of published local histories, some published family histories, church histories, church records, and religious works in bringing his ancestors to life. The author traveled to many of the places where his ancestors resided in order to understand their lives, and his experiences in these places are interwoven into the narrative in a way that does not detract from the story. I often read books written by journalists and am completely disappointed in them, but this is one book that far exceeded my expectations. The author's religious heritage is varied -- from the Puritans of Massachusetts, many of whom later became Congregationalists, to the Dutch Reformed and Presbyterians of New York, to Methodists, to the Christian Church, and even to the Catholic Church. As I read some of his narratives, I was certain that many of his Massachusetts ancestors probably knew some of my own ancestors because of the experiences that they shared, even though their names were never mentioned. Griffeth has done us a great service by producing a book that demonstrates the incorporation of local, social, and religious history along with the data genealogists collect to make ancestors come alive. I borrowed this from a friend, but I will definitely be purchasing my own copy as it is one that I want to own.


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