Memoir writing is big and seems to be getting bigger. Celebrities are writing memoir books and so are everyday folk like you and me. I read a review of Donald Rumsfield's newly-released memoir Known and Unknown, and the reviewer contended that while this memoir is filled with annotations and a historical record, it comes across as being more about revenge.
Revenge? Is this a valid reason for writing a memoir? The book is 815 pages. I'm beginning to think each memoir writer is competing for the longest book, and I wonder how many people Mr. Rumsfield is trying to pick on. A celebrity who writes a memoir is trying to set the record straight. Here's what happened--it's from the horse's mouth. It makes sense that someone who has been roundly criticized for their actions and thoughts would want to set the record straight, but give consideration that they are looking at facts from a single viewpoint. They might be able to tell us what happened, but the why of the event is a single perception.
Donald Rumsfield is certainly not the only person who has written a memoir with revenge as part of the reason to do so. Nor will he be the last. But I hope that revenge is not the main reason for undertaking such a large project. I must say that I am only discussing this today because of what the reviewer wrote. I have not read the book myself.
I much prefer that people write memoirs to leave a record for their families, to highlight their lives and present a picture of the era in which they grew up, and because they want to share their stories with others.