Spring 2020 Preview

We’re highlighting here  some of the books due out this spring and summer that are likely to garner critical and popular acclaim, because of their subject, their author, or both. The titles already getting buzz are drawn from Publishers WeeklyKirkus ReviewsBooklistLibrary Journal, and Amazon, among others. BIO members with upcoming releases are noted in bold type.

Please note: We do our best to learn about new books, and the ongoing monthly “In Stores” feature in The Biographer’s Craft will include even more fall and winter releases. But, if we’ve missed any members’ upcoming releases, please let us know so we can add them to this list.


Broken Glass: Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece by Alex Beam (Random House)

Child of Light: A Biography of Robert Stone by Madison Smartt Bell (Doubleday)

Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr (St. Martin’s Press)

Eileen: The Making of Orwell by Sylvia Topp (Unbound)

Bach’s Musical Universe: The Composer and His Work by Christoph Wolff (W. W. Norton)

Rebel Cinderella: Rose Pastor Stokes: Sweatshop Immigrant, Aristocrat’s Wife, Socialist Crusader by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best by Neal Bascomb (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Bluffing Texas Style: The Arsons, Forgeries, and High-Stakes Poker Capers of Rare Book Dealer Johnny Jenkins by Michael Vinson (University of Oklahoma Press)

Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century by John Loughery and Blythe Randolph (Simon & Schuster)

The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. by Peniel E. Joseph (Basic Books)

MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman by Ben Hubbard (Tim Duggan Books)

What Stars Are Made Of: The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin by Donovan Moore (Harvard University Press)

The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family by Bettye Kearse (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Life of William Faulkner: The Past Is Never Dead, 1897–1934 by Carl Rollyson (University of Virginia Press)

The Last Days of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson (University Press of Mississippi)

House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family by Hadley Freeman (Simon & Schuster)

Houdini: The Elusive American by Adam Begley (Yale University Press)

King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV by Philip Mansel (University of Chicago Press)

Radical Spirits: India’s First Woman Doctor and Her American Champions by Nandini Patwardhan (Story Artisan Press)

All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen by Bernice Lerner (Johns Hopkins University Press)

Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener by Kimberly Hamlin (W. W. Norton)



Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick (Penguin Press)

Odetta: A Life in Music and Protest by Ian Zack (Beacon Press)

The House of Kennedy by James Patterson (Little, Brown)

The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke by Sallie Bingham (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Good Assassin: How a Mossad Agent and a Band of Survivors Hunted Down the Butcher of Latvia by Stephan Talty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade (Tim Duggan Books)

Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington by Ted Widmer (Simon & Schuster)

Ride the Devil’s Herd: Wyatt Earp’s Epic Battle Against the West’s Biggest Outlaw Gang by John Boessenecker (Hanover Square)

Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell by Tom Clavin (St. Martin’s Press)

The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World by Barry Gewen (W. W. Norton)

Calder: The Conquest of Space: The Later Years: 1940–1976 by Jed Perl (Knopf)

Warhol by Blake Gopnik (Ecco)

Becoming Kim Jong Un: A Former CIA Officer’s Insights into North Korea’s Enigmatic Young Dictator by Jung H. Pak (Ballantine)

Pelosi by Molly Ball (Henry Holt)

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Lesson for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (Crown)

The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution by Stephen Heyman (W. W. Norton)

Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party by Julian E. Zelizer (Penguin)

The Heart: Frida Kahlo in Paris by Marc Petitjean, translated by Adriana Hunter (Other Press)



Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South by Matthew Van Meter (Little, Brown)

Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World by Jonathan Bate (William Collins)

Galileo: And the Science Deniers by Mario Livio (Simon & Schuster)

Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State by Barton Gellman (Penguin Press)

The Unusual Suspect: How to Rob a Bank and (Nearly) Get Away With It by Ben Machell (Canongate)

Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy by Larry Tye (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes by Zachary D. Carter (Random House)

Dead Reckoning: The Story of How Johnny Mitchell and His Fighter Pilots Took on Admiral Yamamoto and Avenged Pearl Harbor by Dick Lehr (Harper)

Man of Tomorrow: The Relentless Life of Jerry Brown by Jim Newton (Little, Brown)

The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser (Doubleday)

James Monroe: A Life by Tim McGrath (Dutton)

The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism by Susan Berfield (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole by Will Friedwald (Oxford University Press)

The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch by Miles Harvey (Little, Brown)

Atomic Spy: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs by Nancy Thorndike Greenspan (Viking)

Incitement: Anwar al-Awlaki’s Western Jihad by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens (Harvard University Press)

Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard by Clare Carlisle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Hitler: Volume II: Downfall 1939–45 by Volker Ullrich (Bodley Head)



Show Them You’re Good: A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College by Jeff Hobbes (Scribner)

The Lives of Isaac Stern by David Schoenbaum (W. W. Norton)

Seeing Serena by Gerald Marzorati (Scribner)

Life of a Klansman: A Family History with White Supremacy by Edward Ball (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China by Jonathan Kaufman (Viking)

The S.S. Officer’s Armchair: Uncovering the Hidden Life of a Nazi by Daniel Lee (Hachette)

AOC: A Celebration of the Fierce Brilliance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by Lynda Lopez (St. Martin’s Press)

The Brothers York: A Royal Tragedy by Thomas Penn (Simon & Schuster)

The Education of John Adams by R. B. Bernstein (Oxford University Press)

The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos by Judy Batalion (William Morrow)

The Indomitable Florence Finch: The Untold Story of a War Widow Turned Resistance Fighter and Savior of American POWs by Robert J. Mrazek (Hachette Books)

Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Nicholas A. Basbanes (Knopf)

Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Arthur J. Magida (W. W. Norton)



Fall: The Last Days of Robert Maxwell by John Preston (Viking)

The Divine Miss Marble: A Life of Tennis, Fame, and Mystery by Robert Weintraub (Dutton)

The Beauty of Living: E. E. Cummings in the Great War by Alison Rosenblitt (W. W. Norton)



Olive the Lionheart: Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman’s Journey to the Heart of Africa by Brad Ricca (St. Martin’s Press)

The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A. N. Wilson (Harper)

The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers by Emily Levesque (Sourcebooks)

Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography by Thomas A. Schwartz (Hill and Wang)

God’s Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World by Alan Mikhail (Liveright)

Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy by Wolfram Eilenberger (Penguin Press)

Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World by Lesley M. M. Blume (Simon & Schuster)

The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War by Michael Gorra (Liveright)

Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker by David Mikics (Yale University Press)

Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick by Andrea Friederici Ross (Southern Illinois University Press)