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This outstanding biography, a winner of the National Book Award, is the first to explore the fascinating life of this editor extraordinaire—in both the professional and personal domains. It tells not only of Perkin’s stormy marriage, endearing eccentricities, and secret twenty-five-year romance with Elizabeth Lemmon, but also of his intensely intimate relationships with leading literary lights of the twentieth century. It is, in the words of Newsweek, "an admirable biography of a wholly admirable man."
Posted June 17, 2012
I found the subject so well researched and written that this biography read like a novel. I didn't want to put it down.
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Posted February 4, 2014
This biography, by the masterful biographer, A. Scott Berg, is the best biography I have ever read. Ever. And I have read innumerable biographies, of everyone from film celebrities to historical figures and everything in between, but especially literary biographies. Maxwell Perkins was an editor of genius during the heyday of NY publishing. His roster of authors included, among others, Marjorie Kinan Rawlings, Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. While exploring the life of the man himself, the book also shines a light into the lives of his authors, and particularly in the case of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, of their acquaintance. Filled with letters among the various parties, this biography comes springing to life. As Perkins led Wolfe from a towering pile of disorganized writing to several classic and timeless works, as he dealt with Fitzgerald's and Hemingway's demons, he gently, and gentlemanly, enabled these authors' genius to flower. This biography of Perkins' own trials and tribulations, his family life, and the window into the world of publishing, when the writing was the thing, is unbeatable. If you love books and publishing and want to know how important an editor can be in the process of birthing a book, you simply cannot miss this!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 4, 2007
Scott Berg's biography of Max Perkins is a smooth, readable account of America's greatest editor in the prewar period, the midwife for works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe in the twenties and thirties, when big-time publishing converged on New York. Berg's book is cunningly organized: the reader steps at once into the rough and tumble of editorial work at Scribner's, leaving Perkins' early life, marriage, and family to be described in concise digressions taken only after another satisfying dollop of publishing history. Unhappily, once Perkins has delivered his discoveries to the public, the rest is mostly about their boozy extravagance (Fitzgerald), bullying ego trips (Hemingway), and petulant indiscipline verging on insanity (Wolfe). So even if, for this reason, you stop two-thirds of the way through, your curiosity about this key figure in modern literary history will be very well satisfied.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 18, 2002
Scott Berg has written a wonderful biography on one of the most important men in American literature, Max Perkins. Berg's book is well-written and very entertaining. It is more than a biography of Perkins, it is also a biography of Hemingway, Scott Fiztgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, and a portrait of America during the first half of the 20th century. This is one of those books that I could go on and on about. It is a book that everyone should read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 9, 2001
This book is a lesson in what it means to be a friend. Max Perkins was obviously a person who instinctivly knew how to prod, push, prompt and patch things up with some of the most delicate and talented authors of our century. How he balanced F.S.F. and worked for him even after his death. How he surrounded the giant ego of Hemingway.Also, how he carried the weight of Wolfe. This all wrapped up in a man who was also a loving family man and Husband. All this accomplished by the quiet genius under the fedora.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 16, 2000
Most readers have heard of Scott Fitzgerald,Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe. Few people know they shared the same editor along with Taylor Caldwell, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and other literary luminaries of the early 20th century. Scott Berg penned a wonderful portrait of the editor who brought out the best in all of them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 13, 2014
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