Guns and Gods in My Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower

Guns and Gods in My Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower

by Neill McKee


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Neill McKee, author of the award-winning travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo, takes the reader through 400 years and 15,000 miles of an on-the-road adventure, discovering stories of his Scots-Irish ancestors in Canada, while uncovering their attitudes towards religion and guns. His adventure turns south and west as he follows the trail of his maternal grandfather, a Canadian preacher who married an American woman in Wisconsin, and braved the American Wild West. Much to his surprise, McKee finds his American ancestors were involved in every major conflict on North American soil: the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the French and Indian War. In the last chapters, McKee discovers and documents his Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth in 1620, and their Puritan descendants who fought in the early Indian Wars of New England. With the help of professional genealogical research, he tracks down and tells the stories of the heroes, villains, rascals, as well as, the godly and ordinary folk in his genes, discovering many facts and exposing myths. He also lets readers in on a personal struggle: whether to apply for Canadian-United States dual citizenship or remain only a Canadian.

The author employs vivid descriptions, dialogue, poetic prose, historic poetry, analytical opinion, and over a hundred photos and illustrations. For example, in a detective-like investigation he takes the reader back to the scenes his preacher grandfather encountered in Newcastle, Wyoming, during 1905-06-then a town with a two-story brothel across the street from his church, as well as a sheriff who owned a saloon with a dance hall, and carried a gun with 20 notches on its handle. McKee visits some of the exact places his ancestors fought and were wounded or killed. He describes encounters with exuberant historians clad in period costumes in ancient forts, and humorous interactions with actor-educators playing the part of Pilgrims at the reconstructed Plymouth Plantation. He takes the reader on serendipitous happenings, such as meeting a distant cousin who's a flower farmer in Western New York State and who has studied their mutual family history in the US and England, dating back twenty-eight generations to the Norman invasion. Throughout the chapters, McKee discovers the importance of following female lines of descent in genealogical research. He also documents socio-religious values and trends, the history of settlement and its impact on North America's indigenous people, as well as the increasingly strict gun control in Canada, compared to the opposite in USA.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

McKee's venture gave me rewards that I can feel and will pass along to others. As I share the many stories I personally tell in the future, McKee has given me another to about how to properly write the story of Family. It is magnificently done! -Ronald G. Taylor, Historian & Genealogist, Western New York

Guns and Gods in My Genes is a poignant, intense exploration of research into the author's ancestry where he begins in the modern day, talking to relatives and descendants in both the US and Canada, and gradually takes the reader back through 400 years to his first ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower. He seeks to answer the question of what ethics and philosophy he has inherited over the centuries to help him understand how he should feel about God and guns. His research is deep and wide and raises many thought-provoking questions. A fast-paced and fascinating read. -Gayle Lauradunn, Poet and Author, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I am thinking differently now about using the tools and techniques in his book to learn more about my own family history, and to escape old false beliefs, and embed better attitudes and relationships. Thanks, Neill McKee, for writing this book.

-Charles Mann Rolison, Retired, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I absolutely love this book. Couldn't put it down once I started reading. It is entertaining, interesting, and factual, with some humor thrown in. A wonderful mix of people, their interactions with their neighbours, and the indigenous population around them within the time frame in which they lived. Great job! -Gwenda McCurdy, Avid Reader, Brampton, Ontario

Neill McKee has personalized the history of North America since the arrival of his ancestors on the Mayflower like no author I have ever read before. While the story follows the McKee and Neill/Haskins family experiences, it also speaks to the broader settler-indigenous relations, conflicts, and struggles still unfolding in the 21st century. Drawing on family stories and his interactions with concerned people on both sides of the Canadian-USA border, McKee describes cultural distinctions that significantly inform contrasting assumptions about governance and the Rule of Law, including gun culture and socio-religious underpinnings. All of this is done through vivid descriptions, dialogue, poetic prose, poetry, analytical opinion, and loads of images-a most enjoyable and informative read. -Ken Frey Ed.D., Management Consultant, Milton, Ontario

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781732945739
Publisher: Nbfs Creations LLC
Publication date: 12/11/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 822,534
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.79(d)

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