One of the best ways to learn about a specific era is to read about it from the perspective of its key players. For instance, a good biography of Thomas Jefferson will often tell you much more about the American War for Independence and the writing of the Declaration of Independence than a textbook of the period can.
The problem with reading a good biography about one person, however, is that your view becomes fairly myopic. You might come away knowing a lot about Jefferson's experience in the Constitutional Conventions, but what about the other men involved? What were they thinking, what were their motivations, and where did they fit in the big picture?
That's where biography anthologies come in. A good anthology brings together a number of biographies that share something important in common, whether the subjects lived in the same time or place, or followed the same profession, or became famous for similar reasons. Without a common theme, biography anthologies are pretty much worthless.
Anthologies are also useful for quick reference, or for finding out about people you never knew existed, or for simply thumbing through on a lazy afternoon. We tend to think anything that educates is "merely" educational, and therefore worthless for any entertainment purposes; biography anthologies will educate, but they're also really fun.
There are one or two exceptions to the theme rule: a book like The Oxford Children's Book of Famous People doesn't have a particular unifying theme, but there are so many mini-biographies of so many people that it's more of an encyclopedia than a selection of related stories.
Perhaps the best biography anthologies we've seen are the Hero Tales books by Dave and Neta Jackson, each of which presents stories about important men and women of God through the ages. These are accessible, family-oriented, and accomplish what only the best books do: encourage readers to greater Christian faithfulness.
Our section was getting a bit bloated, so we put several titles in clearance. We're working on rebuilding it, but want only the best volumes. If you know of any excellent anthologies we should carry, please let us know. Our hope is that you'll find books here that are educational, entertaining, and edifying, and not just a bunch of irrelevant stories about dead people.
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