While bookstore shelves around the world have never ceased to
display best-selling "life-and-letters" biographies in prominent
positions, the genre became less popular among academic historians
during the Cold War decades. Their main concern then was with
political and socioeconomic structures, institutions, and
organizations, or-more recently-with the daily lives of ordinary
people and small communities. The contributors to this volume-all
well known senior historians-offer self-critical reflections on
problems they encountered when writing biographies themselves. Some
of them also deal with topics specific to Central Europe, such as
the challenges of writing about the lives of both victims and
perpetrators. Although the volume concentrates on European
historiography, its strong methodological and conceptual focus will
be of great interest to non-European historians wrestling with the
old "structure-versus-agency" question in their own work.
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