In this book, Elizabeth Tonkin, an anthropologist, uses an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the construction and interpretation of oral histories. She argues for a deeper understanding of their oral and social characteristics. Oral accounts of past events are guides to the future, as well as being social activities in which tellers claim authority to speak to particular audiences. Like written history and literature, orality has its shaping genres and aesthetic conventions and, likewise, has to be interpreted through them. Tonkin illustrates her argument from a wide range of examples of memory, narration and oral tradition, including many from Europe and the Americas, and with a particular focus on oral histories from the Jlao Kru of Liberia.