Kenneth Slawenski

J. D. Salinger’s biographer recommends three classics, including one from his subject.

In 2004, Kenneth Slawenski established a website—the puckishly titled DeadCaulfields.com—as an online resource for readers and students of J. D. Salinger’s life and works.  Now, building on a decade of research, he has produced J. D. Salinger: A Life, a monumental biography of the iconic, enigmatic author of The Catcher in the Rye and the Glass family cycle of stories. Kenneth Slawenski selects for us three of his favorite reads—and makes the case for his favorite work of Salinger’s along the way.

Books by Kenneth Slawenski


A Distant Mirror

By Barbara W. Tuchman

“Tuchman knew how to embed every page with a maximum payload of details, while still retaining lightness. A Distant Mirror is possibly her finest delivery. It effortlessly displays the 14th century—not as history—but as a reflection of our own generation.”


Babi Yar

By A. Anatoli Kuznetsov

“This is a true story reconstructed from the diary of a ten-year-old Ukranian boy who was perhaps the sole survivor of the Nazi slaughter pit at Babi Yar. The account is powerful and damning. It leaves the reader incredulous over the depths of human depravity.”


Franny and Zooey

By J. D. Salinger

“Sorry, Catcher fans, this is perhaps Salinger’s masterpiece. “Franny” offers brilliant dialogue and subtlety, while “Zooey” is a brave work, contemplating the modern perils of spirituality without a blush. And, of course, there’s a ‘fat lady’ at the end. How can you go wrong?”

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