Book review: Seeking John Campbell

John Daffurn This book by John Daffurn is not fiction or a memoir. It is the true story of one man’s hunt for the family of a woman he doesn’t know, which encompasses genealogical research, foot slogging, dead ends and a lot of history.

This story starts with the death of this unknown woman, Isabel Grieg, in 1995. She dies intestate. The author found her name on the Bona Vacantia list of estates without heirs. His initial research, prompted by genealogical curiosity, turned into an obsession. This book is the story of that obsession, his fascination with the Campbells and a historical account which ranges from the founding of Argentina, the establishment of a Scots colony in Argentina, through the Great War and World War Two to the present day.

At times it is a very fact hungry book and I found myself re-reading some passages. This was not the book I expected, instead of an ‘Heir Hunter’ style detective story, albeit true, it is instead a well-written historical account of three men – each coincidentally called John Campbell – who may be the unknown father of Isabel Greig. In discovering the stories of these three men, the author tells the history of the twentieth century through the prism of three families.

The three potential fathers are John Argentine Campbell, John Burnet Campbell, and John Otto Campbell. Confused? I admit to getting a trifle bamboozled between the three at times but this did not distract me from what is a fascinating account of the Scottish/Argentina connection.

The story doesn’t end once Isabel’s father is identified. The search then switches to real time, as the author attempts to find the rightful heirs to Isabel’s legacy. It is at this point that the author switches from genealogist to heir hunter.

If you like this, try:-
‘In the Blood’ by Steve Robinson
‘The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
‘Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs’ by Jane Eales

‘Seeking John Campbell’ by John Daffurn [UK: Eptex] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
SEEKING JOHN CAMPBELL by @JohnDaffurn #bookreview via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1yB

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