Write About it Wednesday: What Makes a Good Biography?

“Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.”

Biographies are my go to nonfiction. I find it hard to pick up a book that details a war or a particular time period with 500 + pages without getting bored and feeling guilty for not being able to read it through. A biography allows the reader a more personal experience of what occurred.

So what makes a good biography?

A good biography should read like a novel. Truth can be told as any other story, and presentation is important. A reader shouldn’t feel as though they picked up their old history book and need to take notes in case there is a quiz at the end. The story should flow and keep the reader engaged and excited. The most important aspect of a biography is the research. An author should research thoroughly before beginning the writing process. Facts about the person’s life are important, but combining elements of the world around them makes it authentic. It is immediately evident if the right amount of research has been done. Another important element is the author’s passion. Why are they writing about this particular person? What made them significant? If the reader can’t tell then the author has missed an essential element.

My biggest pet peeve in a biography is when the author is outright biased about a historical event, or a decision made by the person they are discussing. I do not pick up a biography to hear an author’s opinion on historical matters. I want a well-rounded viewpoint so I can develop my own opinions. How do I know if something is accurate if the author is telling their own form of the truth?

What are your favorite biographies? Do you have any that you despised?

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Write About it Wednesday: Rise of ISIS

“Americans are weary of war, but our enemies are not. Wars do not end when we grow tired of fighting them. They end when our enemies are defeated.”

The Rise of ISIS is a combination of background, crimes committed by the terrorist organization and a detailed account of Hamas and their threat to Israel. This is an excellent description for people who have minimal knowledge of ISIS and the threat we’re currently facing. I am not an expert on terrorism, but I was hoping for a deeper knowledge of ISIS based on the title. There are several chapters outlining Hamas and their influential role on other organizations. I did find this intriguing and hope to dive into some research over the Gaza conflict, and the Palestinian authority. I was alarmed that Fatah and Hamas jointly govern the authority and that Obama funded $221 million to the organization three hours before Trump’s inauguration. The fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization is widely known, and our tax dollars were sent as aid to their new government.

One thing I found shocking was the overwhelming use of media by ISIS. “…on June 13, 2014, ISIS posted a picture of a decapitated head on Twitter, along with the following text: This is our football, it’s made of skin #WorldCup.” With the 90, 000 + social media messages per day they have a firm hold on marketing strategies. People are flocking from countries all over the world to join ISIS at an alarming rate. Their violent crimes and lack of concern for human life is not a deterrent. They also have a steady cash flow making them the wealthiest terror organization with countless weapons at their disposal.

I have always had my fair share of issues with the U.N. (and their involvement in terrorist organizations) and this book only increased my concerns. It brought to light issues that I did not know about the Red Cross and how each organization reports the news on the ground. They both lean towards the left and if this book is correct, have aided in promoting terrorism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I like to explore both sides and determine fact vs opinion, but I found little evidence disputing some of the claims. It’s shocking and downright scary.

This book leaves us: “It’s once again time for America to lead.” I couldn’t agree more