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The Limits of Representativeness: Biography, Life Writing, and Microhistory

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents examples of biographical research to illustrate how the human dimension and agency perspective within history can be put in a powerful interpretative framework through microhistory and biography. In 2010 appeared Operation Mincemeat, a study that meticulously reports on a plan by the British secret service in the midst of the Second World War to deceive the Germans through a dead British soldier. This relatively small incident, that has been brought out into the open in Operation Mincemeat by means of extensive biographical research, does not only take back the history of the Second World War to a smaller scale, it also provides information that would have remained veiled when investigated by another method than the biographical one. Life Writing aims to correct history from an ideological view of how the world should look like.

Keywords: biography; British secret service; Germans; Life Writing; microhistory; Operation Mincemeat; Second World War

10.1163/9789004274709_011
/content/books/b9789004274709s011
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