Then Winners Have Been Selected!


I had the pleasure of reviewing this book pre-release (US as well as UK!) and found it quite fascinating. Author, John Daffurn has given me a couple of copies to give away. To enter to win one of the copies, like this review here, on facebook, on Goodreads or leave a comment on any of the three. Each like gets you one entry into the fishbowl, and each comment earns you 2!  Good luck and if you don’t win, you can order a copy by clicking on Seeking John Campbell to buy it from Amazon.  Good Luck! 

Please Note: Entries Are Now Closed! 

Congrats~ Barbara of Frankfurt Germany, Neil of New York State, and Luanne of Kalamazoo and equal dashes of California 🙂

Seeking John Campbell

by John Daffurn

a pre release review by Kassie Ritman

“Come sit here beside me” beckons an old friend, “I want to tell you a story.”

This is the most accurate description I can offer of the writing style of first time author John Daffurn in his incredible true story of finding what was lost. His book Seeking John Campbell is scheduled for release in hard copy and via ebook version in early and mid 2015.

Written in an intimate and conversational tone, The prose is easy, straightforward but also visually descriptive. He artfully walks the necessary line between scholarly report and the words a heart longs to hear. The author teaches us quietly while telling of his journey to flesh out so many forgotten and remarkable people.

What begins with author, John Daffurn, having a bit of curiosity and some spare time on his hands, quickly turns into a passionate, self driven chase. The hours he spent patiently pursuing this obsessive mission to know about a woman’s life, whose name he plucks randomly from a newspaper listing is as amazing. The fact that he finds such a surprising story going back many generations is incredible. Readers go along to find the surprising truth of a seemingly unremarkable woman’s life. Although Daffurn has no connection or relation to “Isabel” the story he tells reads like a love letter to all who have departed this world with little to no tether.

The real gem found here is for the reader. Finding John Campbell should serve to bolt the casual researcher from the worn end of their favorite sofa and out into archives and perhaps yes, even across oceans to find such stories to tell of our own “ordinary” ancestors.  The tenacity behind the author’s pursuit is inspiring, and some of his gentle tactics and clever ways around the “brickwalls” are enough to send most any family researcher scrambling to take note.

If picking up a copy of Seeking John Campbell  does not show us all the folly of leaving our own family behind as only lists and piles of documents, I don’t know what will.  Of key importance is the example set by John Daffurn. This book would not be anything beyond a few pages in a drawer without the story. As his example shows, the whole matter of John Campbell and Isabel can be resolved by looking over the pedigree charts preceding Chapter 1. But as he shows us, there is a benefit to going beyond the names and dates while researching.

As an American, I am rather (typically) blind to the ways and histories of the lands beyond my own. I rarely consider the idea that citizenry would ever leave their home country, especially a civilized place like England or Scotland, and make a home for themselves anywhere besides the United States. That’s where everyone went if they were unhappy…right? No. Daffurn explains the impetus for the Scot migration to Argentina–which was a new country just after the establishment of our own late 18th century Declaration of Independence.

As a nice aside, since this is written in the kindly and UK colored writer’s voice of a cousin from the Isles, we learn a bit more of the colloquial ways and settings. If you have Argentine or Scots for ancestors, and have not been raised in one of these countries, this is a must read! And for all other Americans whose roots sprouted out of any European soil, I recommend this book as an eyeopener.

The Great Wars (WWI and WWII) gave us our heart wrenching share of broken and lost brothers, uncles and fathers. Easily forgotten is that these times treated the “other” side to the same loss and wreckage too.  It’s a haunting reminder if you have been privy to consider this before, but a startling insight if you’ve only seen the great wars from our own American point of view.

I am impressed by the way the author interweaves the story he is chasing with the historical context of world events and the effects on the specific people involved. John Daffurn’s storytelling ability sets us at ease while he goes about mixing the mitigating details seamlessly with his own hunt for answers. The historical framing and intimate life events of those he writes of make for an enjoyable and dramatic true tale well told.

Here’s what  Seeking John Campbell taught me. I am reminded by this book of just how self concentric we all tend to be. The story seeks out a certain John Campbell, but turns out to be an amazing revelation of Isabel and the life and times of her 40 year marriage to a rather underground yet highly public figure.  I wonder how many of her neighbors who waved at her while each was out doing yard work or collecting mail, knew the depths of the person she was?

 Perhaps most importantly: Why haven’t I sought out my John Campbell?



Author: Mom

I am a writer who just happens to love family trees. As the self proclaimed Family Historian and Writer in Residence at my house, I blog to others about family history writing. When I first began this journey, everyone was bored silly with my "family tree stuff." Once I started writing the stories down, everyone willingly joined in. Now the whole family pretty much participates! Imagine that ! Follow along, and you can gain a little family appreciation for all your hard nosed genealogical research while learning a little something about the craft of writing too.

23 thoughts on “Then Winners Have Been Selected!”

    1. I do a lot of family history stuff, but this was packed with lots of info that I didn’t have a clue about…and explained a few things as well! Good Luck 🙂


    1. It’s an inspiring read. I look at his work and think –there was absolutely no pay-off for him to do this–just curiosity. And he worked and worked and came out on the other side with a lot of answers, including ones he hadn’t bargained for at all!


    1. Joyce, I know how silly this sounds, but I really never thought of Europeans moving anywhere but to the US when they left their homeland. I just need a little arrogant American attitude adjustment I guess! This was pretty cool to real, and eye opening in many ways. I especially liked the reactions from the families. I spent a while wondering how much I would trust someone coming to the door with the same sort of info!!


      1. 🙂 lol – When I was doing my own paternal grandfather’s family history from Odessa, Russia (and parts of the former Bessarabia – now known as Moldova – I was also surprised to learn that fact, about many ethnic Germans from Russia and even German Jews from the Pale of Settlement where Jews were forced to settle in Russia in the late 1700’s period had also resettled in parts or countries in South America, particularly Argentina and Brazil so I did a search on my Mannhalter family for that area too, but all of my Mannhalter family had settled in Canada, the U. S. and even some of them from Russia went to Austria and I was able to find a very distant relative from Vienna whose family line from the Mannhalters too settled there. Wow was everyone in the Mannhalters (several lines and clans from the same original family) surprised especially when I could confirm the German Jewish original connection from way back in Prussia and Wuerttemberg. What a lot of cool family history lesson that was to learn. 🙂


      2. It seems to me that there are two main reasons for migration…persecution (eg Puritans to America and Jews from Germany and East Europe) and poverty (eg Ireland to USA)

        The migration in my book relates to poverty caused by the Industrial Revolution in Europe. As mechanisation came in labourers, particularly those on the land, could not find work. Many around 1825 sought countries where land was available and that meant USA, Argentina and then Canada. All had heaps of land and encouraged immigration.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Please feel free to delete this comment. I am curious why you choose to bold print the first line of each paragraph. I have noticed this on several blogs lately. As a reader, I find it very distracting and it draws my focus away from what I am trying to comprehend. I really enjoy what you write but I find I often can’t finish what you are writing because the bold print is just so in the way. Just my two cents from one writer to another. For instance, I don’t really have a clear idea about the book you just reviewed even though I read it twice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deborah aka Genealogy Lady 🙂
      The reason I highlight the beginning of each thought break (Since I don’t really write this blog with proper paragraph styling) is as a “magazine” stylistic model. I’ve been told editors used this “trick” in the old days to keep a readers’ attention…clearly, your comment proves what I have whined for ages… that editors don’t know EVERYTHING! 🙂 They just insist that they DO! Thanks for letting me know that it bugs you. I use the built-in block quotes on this theme (Chateau) in the same manner. This advice was given (dictated) to me by a retired Saturday Evening Post Editor…You know who you are Mister!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have recently read two articles. One which highlights the fact that school history books are written in a more magazine style, with lots of captions, etc that break up the text. They have found this takes away from the level of comprehension needed to fully understand complex historical concepts. The other articles was about how physical books are better for comprehension. When we read eReaders and eBooks we tend to read in an F pattern. The bold first line seems to reinforce this pattern. I definitely find my self reading blogs this way.


a penny for your thoughts dear~

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