¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In keeping with the philosophy of evidence-based storytelling, every attempt is made to support any apparently declarative statement with references to the sources of such information; shortened citations are provided in footnotes, with a bibliography provided at the end of each chapter. In addition, a comprehensive bibliography of all sources consulted is provided in the “List of References.” Such documentation may render the prose a bit more bulky but may easily be ignored by the reader not beset by questions or doubts. This is not a textbook on “Stühlingen 101”; there will not be a test at the end. But I would like to provide sufficient information to slake any lingering curiosity. Readers are free to ignore any material considered irrelevant.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The attribute “evidence-based” implies that every effort was made to make this complex reasoning process transparent through the structure of the report, so the reader can trace the deductive and inferential steps of the author. Every reference to a historical record is linked to the accompanying database. The interested reader can pursue further research by searching for specific dates and text by means of the database search engine.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The research strategy employed was “bottom up,” that is, reconstructing first the actors mentioned in the records, then their actions and attributes, their relationships, and from there progressing gradually to the community they formed. The writing strategy reflects exactly the opposite method: from the most general to the most specific. The description of individuals in the context of their families comes towards the end of the book.
- ¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0
- At the most superficial level, a descriptive list of ancestors, distant cousins, their friends, neighbours, and enemies
- A potential source book for Jewish genealogists
- At the next level, an impression of what life was like in a seventeeth- and eighteenth-century rural Jewish community in southern Germany
- At yet a deeper level, a contribution towards our understanding of Jewish history in the early modern age in rural southern Germany
- An opportunity for the general reader to observe historical research in action
- At the deepest level, a promise and a warning of what the “Big Data” approach has yet to bring: an invasion of our private lives, in intimate detail, by systematically harvesting a collection of apparently trivial and innocuous pieces of information, gathered automatically any time we buy, sell, travel, email, make a phone call, walk by a security camera, or trigger a sensor in some other way.3
3O’Neil, “Weapons of Math Destruction.”