The use of structured questionnaires, oral interviews, quantitative analysis and other social science techniques have only recently brought new insights to historical works. Yet such methods and their underlying theories have long been an integral aspect of sociological and anthropological studies, especially in the United States. Jorge Balán has selected and edited a representative sampling of essays from a number of disciplines that employ life histories. The readings, most of which have been published before, are divided into two parts. Part one has three critiques of theories; part two has five examples of studies that employed the techniques of life histories.
This volume is well edited and organized, and is of great interest to Latin Americanists. The contributers, especially in part two, deal mostly with Latin American subject matter. The multi-discipline approach helps convey to the reader the many possibilities social science techniques can bring to historians, especially those interested in biography and social history.