Biography: A Brief History
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Biography: A Brief History

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  22 ratings  ·  8 reviews
For thousands of years we have recorded real lives--the lives of others, and of ourselves. For what purpose and for whom has this universal and timeless pursuit endured? What obstacles have lain in the path of biographers in the past, and what continues to confound biographers today? Above all, how is it that biographies and autobiographies play such a contested, popular r...more
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published March 20th 2007 by Harvard University Press
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informative, readable - a good broad overview of biography in the western tradition, with a wide net that includes film and art to the extent that an overview can.
Carl Rollyson
Biography is the dominant nonfiction of the present age. It even pervades the media. So why, Hamilton asks, can one find "no single, accessible introduction to the subject, either for the general reader or the specialist?" As a subject, biography per se is not taught at the college level, and biographers are rarely represented in literature anthologies. "Distinguished chairs" in literature go to postmodern studies, women's studies--virtually any specialization but biography. The great misfortune...more
A very enjoyable and broad look at the art of biography. Bios are evolving and have done so with history.
This is a really great book so far (just starting chapter 6 - about halfway through). I have a new found appreciation for Walter Raliegh, Virginia Woolf, and Lytton Strachey. I can't wait to finish this book, and I need to get a copy for myself as soon as possible in order to annotate key ideas when I re-read this.

That said, I think that most biography buffs will NOT like this book. Those will like it, in my opinion, are those who enjoy learning about how our modern culture developed, and those...more
I read this while working on my senior thesis. I found it highly informative and useful. The best thing about this book is its readability; so many history books can become dry and dull. This book was not dry at all. The only thing that bugged me about it was that from time to time it was a bit melodramatic. On the whole, it's a great little book. Few books are dedicated to the actual history of biography, so this is a great contribution to this understudied field.
good historical overview of the different motives and methods behind the writing of Biographies. Hamilton also helps define the genre of Biography apart from its relatives, History, Memoir, even Fiction.
Interesting, but way too dry for the subject material -- it's taken me six weeks to get a third of the way through this one, I'm finally just giving up.
Mary Louise
Excellent overview of the history of biography, and how, up until now, we talk about it.
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