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Guns and Gods in My Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower Paperback – 11 December 2020

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 ratings

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Product details

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 173294573X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1732945739
  • Customer reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 10 ratings

Product description


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 share...one 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

About the Author

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, won a bronze medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, 2020, as well as other awards. McKee holds a Bachelor's Degree, from the University of Calgary and a Master's Degree in Communication from Florida State University. He worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. He directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multimedia initiatives, and has written numerous articles and books in the field of development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO); Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC); UNICEF; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Academy for Educational Development and FHI 360, Washington, DC. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, he settled in New Mexico, using his varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
Edson Whitney
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring book for anyone interested in their own family's history
25 March 2021 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
5.0 out of 5 stars Mixing genealogy, history and insight
9 February 2021 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling journey with the author to places where his own ancestors actually lived
22 January 2021 - Published on Amazon.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling journey with the author to places where his own ancestors actually lived
Reviewed in the United States on 22 January 2021
Early graphic memories of deer hunting as a boy opens this treatise of Neill McKee's hunt for ancestors. The reader not only goes along on his treks, but is also privy to his thinking and the lens through which he even asks questions about the past. 

Made clear by the title, two themes run through the historical sleuthing are indeed guns and gods. At each generation he wonders whether or not his ancestor owned guns, and if so, what kind and for what. Some of his ancestors were pastors. McKee visits at least two services in churches where his ancestors had ministered, and from his own contemporary notes, extrapolates what kind of religion his forebears may have preached there.

The author documents how he learns everything, also adding his own imaginings. He has fun during several encounters, even naming a couple of dogs that come along to help check out ancestral holdings. At one point, to share information in a "more digestible form," he does it through a rhyming poem. 

Each generation is set in historical context as McKee also offers his own speculation as to how his predecessors may have reacted to what was current news at the time. The book is enhanced by a genealogy flow chart, maps, tables of ancestors, and extensive chapter notes.

If you enjoy genealogy, mystery or a fascinating search for history, "Guns and Gods in My Genes" is a compelling trek with the author to the places where his own ancestors actually lived.
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One person found this helpful
Anthony Avina
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable, thoughtful, and lengthy yet engaging read...
25 March 2021 - Published on Amazon.com