Memoirs are a type of primary source, yet many historians do not believe they are as reliable as other primary sources. One of the reasons they do not think memoirs should be used as reliable sources is because of the amount of emotion and personal opinions shared through memoirs. Throughout this blog post I am going to dispute this by talking about how memoirs give an inside look into the thoughts and ideas of a person during a period of time. I am going to be specifically talking about Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: The Story of a Transformation by Yossi Klein Halevi. Although I believe memoirs such as this one are great historical sources, I also believe it is important to realize that they are not to be used as one hundred percent accurate sources and should be carefully scrutinized before being used as a source.
Before diving deeper into these important points, we must first better understand what a memoir is and how it is different from other primary sources. A memoir is often confused with an autobiography, however, there are some major differences. An autobiography goes in chronological order from birth to the current point in the author 's life. In contrast, a memoir does not have to go in chronological order and can start up in any part of a person 's life as well as leave out large chunks of their life. Because a memoir is written by the person it is about it contains all the emotions felt by the person, the reasoning behind the person 's actions, and their thought process during events going on in their lives. Memoirs give us an inside look into why people during history chose to go about events in the manner that they did and make it easier to relate to them and emotionally at...
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...ble sources, but I believe they can be. Memoirs encompass the ideas and thought processes of people during a specific time period, often of which are famous or important historical figures. Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist is a prime example for why memoirs are essential primary sources because it gives historians a inside look into the JDL that they otherwise would not have had. They show what people groups in historical events felt rather than us having to assume based on how we believe that event would make a person feel. It is important to be careful, however, when reading a memoir to be aware that they are usually incredibly biased and only talk about one perspective in a time period rather than multiple like other sources. Despite having some drawbacks and limitations, ultimately memoirs are not only incredibly useful sources, but incredibly necessary ones.
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