I finally succeeded to finish this week a wonderful memoir about the life of Oppie. For the first time in a long long time the lecture took me almost three months. I usually read extremely fast, but this time the information was so rich documenting carefully and chronologically every moment from Oppie's life than I needed more time to think after each chapter.
I will not enter at all into the details regarding the ideas and the content of the book, but as I am thinking to write one day a memoir myself, I will focus only on a couple of ideas on the structure and writing.
The book is following Robert Oppenheimer's life step by step, the chronology being followed very closely and carefully. But this doesn't mean that you have a better understanding of the character, but rather must be a sign of difficult management of the material. I prefer the organization of the historical books on themes as helpful in creating a bigger picture of the trends and tendencies and of the genesis of ideas. I am opposing the evenemential history, also because it is dissipating information: there are too many data impossible to have clearly in your mind after reading 600 pages or more.
The management of an impressive amount of documents: footnotes would charge the page, end notes explaining for each page the sources are more useful.
The journalistic style, including by avoiding opinions and too much personal observation, is a the best solution for offering to your readers a reliable book. For a successful result, you need the skills of a historian, journalist and good writer.
And now, time to think about a possible memoir project, in a near future...