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  • Writer's pictureNeill Mckee

More reviews of Guns and Gods in My Genes

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

Review by the Mayflower Quarterly Magazine Vol. 87, No. 4, Winter 2021

Review for Bronze Medal - Readers' Favorite 2021 International Book Awards - Nonfiction Genealogy

"Guns and Gods in My Genes by Neill McKee is a heartwarming and informative account of a family’s true history and genealogy over the course of generations. The author writes with wit and candor, chronicling interesting, amusing, and fascinating stories from the lives of his ancestors. Neill McKee takes the time..."

A Genealogist in the Archive: A review by Melissa Barker

“I can highly recommend Guns and Gods in My Genes to any genealogist looking for a family history book to read if you are thinking of writing your own family history book.”

Dreamers Creative Writing: Governance, Gun Control and Religion in McKee’s Guns and Gods in My Genes. Book Review by Carole Mertz

“Neill McKee’s memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes, could be described as a personalized history of North America. He begins his historical overview in modern day by sharing discussions with his oldest living relatives, before taking us back through four centuries of North American history. In his 15,000-mile, 400-year journey through his genealogy, Neill McKee considers his own citizenship as he examines cultural distinctions between Canada and the USA that lead to significant differences in governance, gun control, and religion between the two countries.”


John E WordSlinger

"I appreciate the quality, and all of the hard work it took to write, and all involved in this book. Great investigating took place in this creation. Love the thoroughness of the book. The research, and travel time. The book is a slice of time travel of sorts, opening doors to wisdom, and others lives is extraordinary cool to me. Each chapter has about three to four stories in them. The civil war stories are chilling. It exposes North American conflict on guns in a whole new light for me...."

Edson Whitney

"...thank you Neill McKee for an enjoyable and interesting book that inspired me to search for the stories of my ancestors and locality. Anyone reading this will be inspired as well to explore your roots and to find out more about the fascinating lives all those who came before us. The context of the massive amount of historical research that went into this book is also commendable. The people come alive in the context of the political and social milieu in which they lived."


Blair McDowell

"This is the story of Neill McKee searching for his family's roots, arriving on the Mayflower, through the many conflicts in United States and finally to the present generation in Canada. McKee keeps the reader engaged with humor and with stories of the many people he meets in his search. Presently living in the United States he is conflicted about whether or not to take American citizenship, finally coming to a decision as the book ends. Well worth reading."

Laura E.

“Gods and Guns in My Genes” is such a thorough, as well as an enjoyable, book. I was struck by the realistic pictures of the lives of the ancestors, who experienced difficulties which we soft modern people do not know. The author tells us about them, but also leads us to think about America and Canada yesterday and today, discovering history from details of his personal genealogy, not just from the writings of historians. And throughout the book we are aware of the author: his own energy, incredible curiosity, and humour as he investigates the past, by asking people questions about things which, as he says, many people do not think about. I really liked the way, after comparing the oaths of America and Canada, the author ended the book in Glen Allan Cemetery, showing us that his book is also about the present and the future."


Linda H

"I loved this memoir as Neill traces his family tree and visits the places of his ancestors. Stories and anecdotes galore as he discovers who his ancestors were, the lives they led, the battles they fought in, their views on guns and their religious tendencies. Neill weighs up the true stories alongside family myths and legends as he documents his 15,000 mile road trip. Really interesting read. Gets you motivated to trace your own family tree..."


"I smiled as I read. I had a tear appear here or there. I smiled again, traveling at the author's pace. 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. As a Canadian citizen, he is conflicted about becoming a US citizen because of the American attitude toward and laws pertaining to 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

"As I read Neill McKee's book, the facts about his ancestors forced me to take a new look about my "who am I?" story. McKee's writing told me that what his ancestors were facing is connected to things my family and I face right now. 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. Neill McKee has created a wonderful history of the growth of the US and Canada. The way he included stories of people living at the time and places our ancestors lived made history come alive. 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

"After reading Guns and Gods in my Genes, as a Canadian, I was overwhelmed at the thought that my North American family history stretches so far back in time and is such a significant part of United States history. I was thrilled to learn about the remarkable men and women who lived through all the wars, endured religious strife, and carried on with family farming. I loved the stories of the life and times of my paternal grandfather, a Methodist minister, who ventured into the American West as far as Newcastle, Wyoming, a place with a two-story brothel and a sheriff who carried a gun with 20 notches on its handle. A wonderful historical memoir which, I believe, has universal appeal."

—Catharine Neill, Richmond, British Columbia

"A truly masterful work compiled and written by Neill McKee, detailing the history of our mutual McKee ancestors before and after their arrival in Canada, and his Neill/Haskins ancestors in Canada and the United States. This has been skillfully interwoven with detailed accounts about national history in both countries. McKee possesses a great talent for describing the past in a way that brings it into present-day issues, particularly with regards to guns and law and order. I was very surprised to learn about his mother's side which connects him to all those wars in American history, and the coming of the English Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620. This book is definitely a must read for anyone who is interested in family history and genealogy. My thanks to Neill McKee for a job well done!"

—Kenneth McKee, Listowel, Ontario

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