Fall Bio Lineup Promises Plenty of Good Reading

The fall season of 2013 (August through February) has the most impressive lineup of biographies in years. Sucking up a lot of publicity oxygen will be Wilson by A. Scott Berg, the author of Max Perkins: Editor of Genius and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charles Lindberg, being published by Putnam in September. Also in the same month, Ballantine will bring out Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones, vice president of BIO. Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno will be released by Simon & Schuster, timed with the much talked-about documentary film about the late reclusive writer.

Other writers will also be the subjects of a number of biographies this season including E. E. Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever (Pantheon), Call Me Burroughs: A Life by Barry Miles (Twelve), Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett (St. Martin’s Press), Norman Mailer: A Double Life by J. Michael Lennon (Simon & Schuster), Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore by Linda Leavell, and Jack London: An American Life by Earle Labor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Mystery readers will certainly flock to Dashiell Hammett: Man of Mystery by Sally Cline (Arcade Publishing) and A Mysterious Something in the Light: The Life of Raymond Chandler by Tom Williams (Chicago Review Press).

Figures from American politics getting their moment in the biographical sun include Pat and Dick: The Nixons, An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage by Will Swift (Threshold Editions), The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency by James Tobin (Simon & Shuster), and Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero Michael Korda (Harper).

William Morrow expects to have another best-selling assassination book on its hands when it publishes the much-anticipated End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson, the author of the mega-selling Manhunt, in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination.

A certain standout among forthcoming sports books will be The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams by Ben Bradlee Jr. (Little, Brown and Company). Bradlee is featured in this month’s Member Interview

Musical biographies topping the list are Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn (Little, Brown and Company) and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington by Terry Teachout (Gotham).

Royalty books are now again a growth industry since the younger members of the British royal family have come on the scene. Among the forthcoming biographies are Harry: A Biography by Marcia Moody (Michael O’Mara), Kate: A Biography by Marcia Moody (Michael O’Mara)—um, do we detect a trend in titles here?—Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicholl (Weinstein Books), and The New Royal Family: Prince George, William and Kate, the Next Generation by Rob Jobson and Arthur Edwards (John Blake), which includes a cover so recent as to include the newest member of the family, little George.

Other titles expected to garner attention are: Self-help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America by Steven Watts (Other Press),  Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer (St. Martin’s Press).

Last but not least, those readers who like their books long will be looking to pick up—with a back brace—the 1,088-page A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson (Simon & Schuster), which is only volume one of the actress’s life.

For a more complete list of books coming out this fall, go here.