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It is hard for the biographer, for instance, to rise above his own preconceptions and be truly objective. Biographies should be used as sources but it always should be borne in mind that they are often subjectively and not always objectively written. The one of the strengths of using biographies are that there is a direct focus on an event and the biographer might give an event more depth and detail than a general history book would and perhaps give it a human slant. Biographers can be biased, they are sometimes said to fall in love with their subjects. Whilst this maybe an exaggeration there is some truth in the fact that it is hard to be objective about a subject that the writer has analysed in depth and feels they understand.  Biographers are selective through necessity as no biography can ever be a full unvarnished story of a life.  In this selection the biographer has to make a decision as to whether he is judgemental or whether he presents a selection of facts from which his reader can form their own opinion of the subject.  In presenting such a selection, the biographer will be allowing his own views and background colour his choice. It is the attempt to be even-handed with the subject of the biography that can cause controversy as the biographer is accused of rehabilitating history’s villains on one hand or denigrating its heroes on the other. Revisionist theories about notorious historical figures can cause outcry and condemnation as was well illustrated by David Irving’s biography of Adolf Hitler. Even with all the problems, they still are a good source of information and the reader should always consider other books about the same person if they are unsure of the treatment of the subject matter. The wisest thing to do is to cross reference biographies/history books and use more than one source, in order to get a better and more informed opinion.


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