Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: For Liberty

By Larry B. Bramble

Larry Bramble in his book “For Liberty: My Ancestor’s Story of Immigration and the Civil War,” does what any good amateur genealogist, or family historian, should do.  He sets the lives of his ancestors in their proper context against the larger historical backdrop.  Unfortunately that is all that can be said about it.

Tracing the military history of his great-great-grandfather, Philip Lenderking, of the 5th Maryland Infantry, and his four brothers; Frederick, of the Fremont Body Guard and the 181st Ohio Infantry; Rudolph, of the 2nd Michigan Infantry; George of the 27th Michigan Infantry and Louis, of the 12th Maryland Infantry; as well as his great-great-grandfather Taugart Snyder of the 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

The compiled service records of each featured soldier, and the pension records of Frederick and Philip Lenderking, all from the National Archives, and seven reports from the “Official Records” are the only primary source material I was able to unearth in Mr. Bramble’s bibliography, though there are excerpts from letters mentioned in his text they are not noted in the bibliography.  Mr. Bramble also sighted in his bibliography one magazine article and seven printed works, two of which were the King James Bible and Webster’s Dictionary.  The rest, and indeed a very large percentage of his research, was done online using a wide variety of websites, some more credible than others.  I counted 102 citations to online sources with 28 of them being Wikipedia articles.

Mr. Bramble relates the experiences of his ancestors in a linear narrative, chronologically as they happened.  But with so few primary resources to rely upon, Mr. Bramble is left to give a thumbnail sketch of each battle his family members participated in, gleaned in large part from only secondary sources, with a few statistics thrown in.

Throughout the book are many photographs, illustrations and maps.  Many of the maps are hand-drawn and had to be so reduced in size for publication that many of them are illegible, and therefore are not at all useful in supplementing the text.

What Mr. Bramble has attempted to do is admirable.  It is important to be able to set the lives of your ancestors against the backdrop of the historical past, by doing so you get a much clearer understanding of who they were and where they fit into the larger historical picture.  But with such scant primary resources to pull from, and such heavy use of online and secondary sources, Mr. Bramble has written a book that will only be useful to the members of his family.

ISBN 978-1257976003,, © 2011, Softcover, 268 pages, Maps, Photographs, Illustrations, Footnotes, Bibliography. $16.49.  To purchase click HERE.

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