Title: Annie’s Ghosts, A Journey into a Family Secret
Author: Steve Luxenberg
Publisher: Hyperion Books, an imprint of HarperCollins
As any psychologist can tell you – no two people who see an event come away with the very same experience. Criminologists and detectives who question people who may have witnessed a crime experience the fact that several different people will report various versions of the event.
Historians who write about people and events have to weigh all of the evidence and make decisions about which facts to include and which to exclude. Ancient history, filtered through the prism of time and dozens or even hundreds of different historian reporters, may be somewhat easier to write about than more current history, which may be missing some pieces of the puzzle that haven’t been as yet uncovered.
It is not my place to provide accolades for Steve Luxenberg’s 400-page book. The 18, including five on the back cover of this paperbound book (including Bob Woodward, Walter Isaacson, Helen Epstein, and Deborah Tannen) salute the 12 years of research that went into his investigation and discovery of his mother’s secret: that there was an aunt of whom neither he nor most family and friends were aware.
Many members of our community have an avocation of producing their own family trees. Some work at this task simply as a curiosity; others for the potential genetic information that such an endeavor produces. Others, like Steve Luxenberg, work at discovering hidden family members with a passion, such as contained in this very absorbing and entertaining book.
Annie’s Ghosts is not merely Luxenberg’s journey into a portion of his own family history – it may also serve as a template; a textbook case; of how any person who may also be so driven to unearth family secrets of their own families; or of others, can be brought up to the surface for clearer inspection and interpretation. Those are the key words, because simply having some facts at hand doesn’t necessarily make for a coherent story – one must use the scientific method of making theories and then building upon them, layer upon layer, as in any other science.
Steve Luxenberg, who is a 25-year journalist at The Washington Post, proves to be enough of a good reporter who was able to peer objectively at his own family history. A very good read.