Book: Max Perkins

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Max Perkins: Editor of Genius

Author: A. Scott Berg
Publisher: Riverhead Books

Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg took the literary world by storm upon its publication in 1978, garnering rave reviews and winning the National Book Award. A meticulously-researched and engaging portrait of the man who introduced the public to the greatest writers of this century, Berg’s biography stands as one of the finest books on the publishing industry ever written.

The driving force behind such literary superstars as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe, Max Evarts Perkins was the most admired book editor in the world. From the first major novel he edited (Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise) to the last (James Jones’s bestselling From Here to Eternity) Perkins revolutionized American literature. Perkins was tirelessly committed to nurturing talent no matter how young or unproven the writer.

Filled with colorful anecdotes about everything from Perkins’s struggles to convince the old guard at Scribners to publish his visionary (and often controversial) authors to his falling out with one of his most brilliant discoveries, Thomas Wolfe, Max Perkins reveals with insight and humor the professional and personal life of one of the most legendary figures in the history of American publishing. Given unprecedented access to the correspondence between Perkins and his writers, Berg has fashioned a compellingly thorough biography that is as entertaining as it is informative.

A vivid portrait of one man’s life and a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the creation of literature, A. Scott Berg’s Max Perkins: Editor of Genius is a masterful achievement in scholarship and writing.


The man who invented the modern profession of book editing finally got his due, 31 years after his death, when this revelatory biography appeared. A. Scott Berg’s detailed explication of Maxwell Perkins’s work on the manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and a host of other important American writers shows how much the Scribner’s editor contributed to their books, all the while maintaining that he only helped his authors find the best in themselves. This 1978 National Book Award winner is a thorough, carefully considered account of a seminal period in American publishing.

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