Book Review: A Family Secret, A Rabble Rouser, And The Unmarked Grave

A Family Secret, A Rabble Rouser, And The Unmarked Grave: Three Compelling Reasons To Preserve Your Family History, by Beverley Prideaux

Naturally, as someone who is no stranger to family secrets [1], as someone who has been considered a rabble rouser by many people and at least one country [2], and someone who has an intense interest in my family history [3], the title of this book was compelling to me. Fortunately, this book lives up to its compelling title, filled as it is with deeply personal and fascinating stories about the uncovering of dark family secrets involving illegitimacy and shame (subjects that my family is no stranger to either). Another side of the author’s family was involved in labor work to help the downtrodden, after having had a harrowing experience with government oppression in his youth. These are the sort of families I can identify with very well personally (and, likely, I am not the only one who can). The author’s personal family history contains some compelling reasons to write about recording one’s family history.

I can see a great deal of myself, for example, in the figure of Monatague Miller, who is said by the author to be: “a multi-faceted personality; a tireless fighter for causes that moved him, a gentle, sensitive poet.” Such things could be said just as easily about myself. The richness in detail and story provided by the author demonstrates the importance of knowing one’s family history, so that we might know ourselves in the origins of our sensitivities and our genetic and environmental heritage (in terms of disease as well as our epigenetic heritage). When we document our family history we are able to cherish stories about brave and notable ancestors and their deeds that may encourage and inspire us, we may recognize that our family members are kindred spirits that have often had to deal with the same struggles that we have, and we may even have the documentary information to honor our family as they wish to be honored, and to carry on their struggles and defend their honor long after they are gone.

As might be expected of a book of this kind, it is a short volume that is designed to introduce and encourage the reader to read (and purchase) other products, as well as to investigate further information about the subjects discussed in the book. Among the sort of people who would be most interested by this book, and the subject matter of recording one’s family history, would be those who struggle with multi-generational illnesses, the heirs of large family businesses that wish to understand the reasons for their family company culture, and those who wish to better understand themselves by knowing where they come from. These are all noble and worthy goals, and even if a passionate interest in one’s family history can uncover many dark corners, it can also be a way of enjoying the knowledge that we are a part of concerns and projects that are far beyond ourselves that we are an important part of. This knowledge that can comfort and encourage all of us, by putting our lives and the lives of others in a larger narrative and in a proper context.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

[3] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to Book Review: A Family Secret, A Rabble Rouser, And The Unmarked Grave

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