Book Review: “The Gandelman Name in History” [Paperback] (The “Our Name In History” Series)
Yes, I know that the publishers of the Our Name In History disclose that these are short books, have some statistics and deal with immigration and old immgration records. But I — like I’m sure others have and will — bought this because the titled suggested it was a book ABOUT the Gandelman name in history. Nope. WRONG.
There was far less about the Gandelman name in history than about the incredible, fictional Gandelman brothers in Eric Wasserman’s world-class old Hollywood, Hollywood blacklist era must-read novel "Celluloid Strangers,"
which will be reviewed here within a week or so.
Rather, “The Gandelman Name in History” contains some statistics and facts but as a book it resembles the pre-election I used to write for newspapers to get ready for election night. I’d write the “evergreen” stuff that could stand alone, then plug in some specifics about the results on deadline.
“The Gandelman Name in History” — and other books with family names in them in this series — seems almost an unintentional “bait and switch” since you buy it figuring you’d read a lot about your family history and you get probaby a page or two (at MOST) of statistics about your family. The rest is “evergreen” about immigration at the time, America at the time.
This makes it easy to do a series: you can do The Schmidlap Name in History, The Jones Name in History, The Obama Name in History, The Jackson Name in History — and the main text is the same. All the publisher has to do is to do small run versions that have some statistics about the name on the cover in it — easily insertable.
It is a concept whose time has not come because you’re dealing with readers excited to learn something about THEIR family history.
Mind you, it IS indeed fascinating, worthwhile and a useful take off point to find out about your family.
But was this BOOK about “The Gandelman Name in History”?
I wouldn’t say so and I bet most readers wouldn’t say so but a p.r. person or a defense attorney representing the publisher in a class action lawsuit by readers who feel ripped off by the series might say so.
Why couldn’t I just buy the page or two of statistics about Gandelmans?
To be sure, I learned some very interesting things and will gift this to my sister in Colorado (for instance, I realized that my Dad and Uncle were among X number of Gandelmans who served during World War II, I learned where most Gandelmans live).
And the book was well done. But the book was also the only book I’ve bought on Amazon ever where I felt I had been snookered by a title that did not really reflect the contents.
You can buy one of these Our Name In History books for a relative.
Just don’t suggest to them that the book is actually about their specific family: it’s a book where some info about families are inserted into the text to sell the series.
The problem is that you can sell and then there’s word of mouth.
My word here is: “Buyer beware.”
I give this two and a half stars on a scale of five due to the title, which did not reflect the contents and was misleading. Well done general history. Shocking small info about Gandelmans.
GO HERE and see how disappointed others have been with this series when they bought these books with family name. BUYER BEWARE.
FOOTNOTE: This is the only book I bought on Amazon where I was going to demand a refund. But I lost and just found it so I’ll send it to my sister and ask her to pass it along to another Gandelman — or toss it.