For those who visit this blog regularly, you know that I have a particular fondness for biography. I've always been more interested in the lives of the Civil War's military and political figures (especially those largely ignored, overlooked, or forgotten), than in the war's grand campaigns and great battles. And over the past two years, I have posted numerous short bio-pieces on various commanders, usually the somewhat obscure. (Take most recently, Hector Tyndale and N.J.T. Dana).
But it seems to me that writing biographies is somewhat tricky. All too often, and I am guilty of this as well, it appears as though the old adage is true: that biographies are just "one d----d thing after another," i.e. birth, childhood, career, death. Perhaps there is no other way around it. So, before embarking on my long-planned biography of a certain Civil War general (and my regular readers know who I am referring to), I thought I would seek some input. . . .
What makes for a good biography? What is it you like to see covered in someone's life story? What was the best Civil War biography you have ever read? The worst? What makes these works memorable, good or bad? What approaches to writing biographies work, and which do not?
Any and all feedback will be most appreciated.