Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review: Cajun by Any Other Name

Cajun by Any Other Name* focuses on the history of one person’s Acadian, Native American and European ancestral lines. Author Marie Rundquist shares the relocation and establishment of her ancestors from Canada to Louisiana.

The book is organized into six chapters. Five of the six chapters detail distinct eras in the location of the author’s ancestors. The first chapter details the relocation of Rundquist’s ancestors from Nova Scotia to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The author’s description of their plight and the setting make a good read for those unfamiliar with the area’s history. This section itself would make an excellent book on the topic of Acadian exile in Maryland.

The middle chapters of Cajun by Any Other Name focus specifically on the authors own ancestors as they made their way to Louisiana. Rundquist moves back and forth between her ancestors’ past and her own story in the present day including detailed travel itineraries and commentary. This works most of the time but occasionally takes away from the historical narrative. 

Chapter six is titled “Out of Acadia,” but it actually is a discussion on the use of DNA tests in genealogy. Here the book shifts unexpectedly from the focus on history as the author discusses her own experiences with DNA and shares those of others who are in her same research interest group. Those who are not familiar with DNA tests as they are used in family history may be confused by this chapter, as there is no introductory lesson on haplogroups and Y-DNA and mt-DNA. This final section--like the first chapter--would make an interesting book topic in itself.

The book includes several color photos and references at the end including a healthy bibliography. There is no name index, though the author’s maternal ancestral line is provided for reference as an appendix.

Cajun by Any Other Name is most relevant to those who share common Acadian ancestry with the author. Though my own Cajun roots landed and grew further west in Louisiana, I still found Rundquist’s ancestral story to be an interesting read.

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Cajun by Any Other Name*
by Marie Rundquist
ISBN - 978-0-7414-7042-X

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