Memoir As Life Review
Memoirs are one form of life review. They represent the writer's search for meaning and the desire to leave a record for posterity. Although religious confessional memoirs, such as the Confessions of St. Augustine and The Book of Margery Kempe survive from the medieval period, it was not until the seventeenth century that people began to view personal experience as having intrinsic value. For the first time in history, men and women who were neither members of the clergy nor of royal lineage revealed themselves through their memoirs. The interest in writing personal memoirs has not diminished, and in the latter part of the twentieth century memoirs became the signature genre of the era.
Memoirs range from angry to tell-all, to personal journeys to confessional and painful soul searching. For example, the memoirs of Robert S. McNamara, (In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, 1995) illustrate courage and humiliation in acknowledging grave mistakes. Larry McMurtry's memoir, Roads: Driving America's Great Highways (2000) is an example of introspective soul searching.
Neither memoirs, nor autobiographies nor oral life reviews necessarily represent the unvarnished truth. They are attempts to understand, integrate, and evaluate in hindsight the life decisions that were made.