The National Book Award winner from Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg is now celebrating its 40th anniversary.
The talents he nurtured were known worldwide: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and numerous others. But Maxwell Perkins remained a mystery, a backstage presence who served these authors not only as editor but also as critic, career manager, moneylender, psychoanalyst, father-confessor, and friend.
This outstanding biography, a winner of the National Book Award, is the first to explore the fascinating life of this genius editor extraordinare—in both the professional and personal domains. It tells not only of Perkins’s stormy marriage, endearing eccentricities, and secret twenty-five-year romance with Elizabeth Lemmon, but also of his intensely intimate relationships with the leading literary lights of the twentieth century. It is, in the words of Newsweek, “an admirable biography of a wholly admirable man.”
The basis for the Major Motion Picture Genius, Starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, and Jude Law.
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|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
I The Real Thing 3
II Paradise 10
III Provenance 24
IV Branching Out 40
V A New House 60
VI Companions 87
VII A Man of Character 109
VIII A Little Honest Help 128
IX Crises of Confidence 151
X Mentor 167
XI Lamentations 185
XII The Sexes 204
XIII Triumphs over Time 228
XIV Going Home Again 257
XV Critical Times 275
XVI The Letter 297
XVII A Sad Farewell 322
XVIII By the Wind Grieved 337
XIX To Everything a Season 359
XX Diminutions 389
XXI Portrait in Gray and Black 408
XXII A Toss of the Hat 433
Sources and Notes 456
What People are Saying About This
Praise for A. Scott Berg’s Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
“A highly readable work of literary history.” —New York Times Book Review
“An extraordinarily fine and moving portrait of the man who assembled America’s finest literary gang.” —Russell Baker
“Talented, intelligent, and marvellously researched... A work that does honor to the subject.” —Chicago Tribune
“A. Scott Berg has…(perhaps just in the nick of time) rescued Perkins from permanent obscurity.” —Atlantic Monthly
"In the history of American publishing there is no more legendary -- and elusive -- figure than Maxwell Evarts Perkins.... Now the mystery has been solved in Scott Berg's exhaustive, penetrating, and wholly satisfying biography... Scrupulous, thoughtful, touching, memorable, and eminently rewarding." —Jonathan Yardley, The Miami Herald
"A. Scott Berg's Max Perkins: Editor of Genius seems such a natural that it makes you wonder why no one ever thought of writing such a book before. [Among] the virtues of this biography is that Perkins emerges from the shadows... The details enrich the legend." —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
"Max Perkins was the best of hte best. This book brings him back alive." —Erskine Caldwell
Praise for A. Scott Berg’s Lindbergh
“Berg’s book is an extraordinary achievement. In his authoritative chronicle, Berg has allowed the inconsistencies, nuances, and tribulations of Lindbergh’s life to speak for themselves without judgment or speculation. In doing so, he has given us the definitive account of a dramatic and disturbing American story.”--Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Charles Lindbergh is the ultimate American life, and Berg’s new biography is the ultimate exploration of that life. In an astonishing biography of a man who personified the future tense, no sentence is overwritten, no passage overwrought.”--Boston Sunday Globe
“Berg’s monumental new biography is a richly detailed and deeply nuanced examination of a historic life in all its complexity. This is fall’s must-read biography.”--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Berg turns that historic flight into a cogent and thoroughly gripping account that conveys all the magic, danger and courage of the young pilot’s achievement. A similar narrative prowess informs Berg’s account of the 1932 kidnapping of Lindbergh’s infant son and the subsequent trial of Hauptmann – an account that reads, at once, as a harrowing thriller and a sobering study in the unreckoned consequences of fame.”--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A superb biography.”--Time Magazine
“The most outstanding piece of nonfiction that I have read this year. Berg does a spectacular job of establishing why Lindbergh proves such a powerful icon for the 20th century. A substantial piece of history that illuminates an important figure in world history. It’s the kind of book that took almost a decade to create. And it’s worth it.”--USA Today
“Berg brings us about as close as I suspect we will ever get to the man himself.”--The New York Times Book Review
An extraordinarily fine and moving portrait of the man who assembled America's finest literary gang.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
I found the subject so well researched and written that this biography read like a novel. I didn't want to put it down.
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.
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.
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.
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.