Update: The recording of this event is available here.
Bob Bender will receive BIO’s 2021 Editorial Excellence Award, presented annually to an outstanding editor of biography, on Thursday, November 18 from 7 p.m to 8 p.m. Eastern, at an online event featuring several of his authors: Marie Arana, David W. Blight, Scott Eyman, and Jeff Guinn.
Registration for the Zoom event is available at this link.
Bender is Vice President and Executive Editor of Simon & Schuster, where he has worked since 1981. He acquires a wide range of nonfiction, including biography and autobiography, history, current events, popular science, popular culture (primarily film and music), and narrative nonfiction with a distinctive voice. Authors that he has published also include Muhammad Ali, Marie Arana, Miles Davis, Jonathan Eig, David Hackett Fischer, Linda Greenhouse, John Kerry, Naomi Klein, Pauline Maier, David McCullough, Gilda Radner, James Shapiro, and Jean Edward Smith.
Kai Bird, chair of BIO’s Award Committee, with Tim Duggan, Ruth Franklin, Peniel Joseph, Candice Millard, and Will Swift, praised Bender for his “cultivation and support for so many illustrious biographers over many decades.”
Marie Arana was born in Lima, Peru. She is the author of Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story, chosen by the American Library Association as the top nonfiction book of the year; Bolivar: American Liberator, winner of the Los Angeles Times Prize for Biography; the memoir American Chica, a finalist for the National Book Award; two novels, Cellophane and Lima Nights; and The Writing Life, a collection from her well-known column for The Washington Post, where she was editor-in-chief of Book World. She was the inaugural Literary Director of the Library of Congress, founder of the Literary Initiatives division of that library, and one of the principal architects of the National Book Festival. In 2020, she received an award for her lifetime literary work from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. A writer-at-large for The Washington Post, she divides her time between Washington, D.C., and Lima, Peru.
David W. Blight is Sterling Professor of History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, which won BIO’s Plutarch Award; American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies. He has worked on Douglass much of his professional life and been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others.
Scott Eyman was the literary critic at The Palm Beach Post and is the author or coauthor of 15 books, including the bestselling biography John Wayne: The Life and Legend; Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart; Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille; Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer; Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford; and, with the actor Robert Wagner, the bestsellers Pieces of My Heart and You Must Remember This. Eyman also writes book reviews for The Wall Street Journal, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. He and his wife, Lynn, live in West Palm Beach.
Jeff Guinn is the bestselling author of many books, including War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, The Texas Rangers and an American Invasion; Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip; The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple; Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson; Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde; The Last Gunfight; and The Autobiography of Santa Claus. The former books editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and an award-winning investigative journalist, he is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. He lives in Fort Worth.
BIO’s Editorial Excellence Award has been presented since 2014. Past recipients are Tim Duggan, Robert Gottlieb, Gayatri Patnaik, Jonathan Segal, Ileene Smith, Nan A. Talese, and Robert Weil.
Gayatri Patnaik will receive BIO’s 2020 Editorial Excellence Award on Monday evening, November 9, at an online event featuring three of her authors: Imani Perry, Marcus Rediker, and Jeanne Theoharis, along with literary agent Tanya McKinnon.
Patnaik is Associate Director and Editorial Director of Beacon Press, where for 18 years she has edited and published many books on race, ethnicity, and immigration. A native of India who emigrated with her family to the United States as a child, she has focused on African American history, creating Beacon’s “ReVisioning American History” series and its “Queer Action / Queer Ideas” series.
Kai Bird, chair of BIO’s Award Committee, with Tim Duggan, Peniel Joseph, Kitty Kelley, and Megan Marshall, praised Patnaik for her work as “a very gutsy, courageous editor who has taken on some high-risk, controversial biographies and published so many outstanding authors.”
Imani Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, is the author of Looking for Lorraine: The Radical Life of Lorraine Hansbury, winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, and other awards.
Marcus Rediker, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, is the award-winning author of numerous books including The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf who became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist.
Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, is the author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, winner of the NAACP Image Award and the Letitia Woods Brown Award of the Association of Black Women Historians.
Tanya McKinnon, founder and principal of McKinnon Literary, represents New York Times bestselling and award-winning nonfiction that amplifies progressive voices, as well as fiction, children’s books, and graphic novels.
BIO’s Editorial Excellence Award is presented annually to an outstanding editor from nominations submitted by BIO members. Past recipients are Tim Duggan, Robert Gottlieb, Jonathan Segal, Ileene Smith, Nan A. Talese, and Robert Weil.
Register for free tickets on Eventbrite and receive a link to join the event on Zoom on Monday, November 9, at 7 p.m. ET.
Ileene Smith, winner of BIO’s 2019 Editorial Excellence Award, received her award on November 13 at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Smith has been vice president and executive editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux since 2012. She is also editorial director of the Jewish Lives series published by Yale University Press and the Leon D. Black Foundation. Smith has previously been the recipient of the PEN/Roger Klein Award, the Tony Godwin Memorial Award, and a Jerusalem Fellowship.
Below is a video of the evening’s events.
The video is courtesy of the Leon Levy Center.
Ileene Smith is the winner of the 2019 Editorial Excellence Award, given each year by BIO to an outstanding editor, from nominations submitted by BIO members. Smith has been vice president and executive editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux since 2012. She is also editorial director of the Jewish Lives series published by Yale University Press and the Leon D. Black Foundation. Smith has previously been the recipient of the PEN/Roger Klein Award, the Tony Godwin Memorial Award, and a Jerusalem Fellowship.
The event honoring Smith will be held on Wednesday, November 13, starting at 6:30 p.m., in the Skylight Room at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The evening will include remarks from some of Smith’s authors, along with a reception. The event is free but registration is required and is limited to 70 people. You can register here.
On November 7, BIO presented its fifth annual Editorial Excellence Award to Tim Duggan, editor and publisher of Tim Duggan Books, an imprint of Crown at Penguin Random House. The Biographer’s Craft will have a write-up of the evening’s events in December. You can read Duggan’s remarks on accepting the award here.
Biographers International Organization will present its fifth annual Editorial Excellence Award to Tim Duggan, editor and publisher of Tim Duggan Books, an imprint of Crown at Penguin Random House. Please join us on Wednesday, November 7, at 6:30 p.m., for wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a celebration of Tim Duggan’s work on behalf of his authors, with a discussion of the pleasures and challenges of editing, and of the state of the art of serious biography and nonfiction. The event will be held in New York at the Fabbri Mansion (also known as House of the Redeemer), 7 East 95th Street.
BIO founder James McGrath Morris (Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power) will introduce Duggan. Other speakers will include David Michaelis (Schultz and Peanuts: A Biography; N.C. Wyeth: A Biography), who is currently working on a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, and Adam Begley (The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera).
Duggan founded his eponymous imprint in 2014 after working for many years as an executive editor at HarperCollins. Authors he has edited include Timothy Snyder, Michiko Kakutani, Adam Begley, Daniel Mendelsohn, Mark Singer, Madeleine Albright, Michael Kinsley, and Brenda Wineapple. The books he has published include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and multiple finalists for the National Book Award.
Duggan is a member of BIO’s Advisory Council, a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Previous winners of the award are Robert Gottlieb, Jonathan Segal, Nan Talese, and Robert Weil.
Although this event is free, advance registration is necessary. Please click here to register.
By Dona Munker, TBC New York Correspondent
On November 8, Robert Weil, editor-in-chief and publishing director of Liveright, an imprint of W. W. Norton, received BIO’s fourth annual Editorial Excellence Award. He joins Nan A. Talese, Jonathan Segal, and Robert Gottlieb, as winners of this honor. Introduced by one of his authors, Thomas Jefferson biographer Annette Gordon-Reed, Weil said that he thinks he may have become an editor because editing fulfills “a yearning to rescue and nurture.” The evening, which also included a panel discussion, was cosponsored by the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Follow this link to view his speech and hear Gordon-Reed and five other biographers Weil nurtured share what makes an editor legendary.