As human beings are incurably nosy (I believe the vice is called curiositas), we find books more interesting if the author reveals his own attitude toward the subject. Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory was about the First World War, but it also was about Paul Fussell and how he reacted to his own experience in war, in which he had been dreadfully wounded in body and soul.
Autobiographies attract us. St. Augustine’s Confessions set a high standard of self-revelation. He was confessing not to us, but to God, and we are eavesdroppers (which makes it even better). He was also confessing not only his sins, but the work of God in his life, guiding him along paths that he would ra . . .