Fall 2007: War Books Abound

Caroline Kennedy speaks after receiving the 2006 Platinum Quill award during the Second Annual Quill Awards, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The awards honor books selected by America's readers in a variety of categories.
In literary circles, the autumn of 2007 will be a season for war stories, old and current.

The Revolutionary War should remain a favorite subject, thanks to books by the two most popular writers about that era: David McCullough and Joseph Ellis. McCullough's best-selling "1776" is being reissued in an illustrated edition, while Ellis' "American Creation" reflects on decisions made by the founding fathers.

Ken Burns' World War II documentary, "The War," is airing in September on PBS stations and publisher Alfred A. Knopf expects a big push for the companion book, which has a first printing of 525,000. "The War" should also raise interest in other World War II titles, especially Rick Atkinson's "The Day of Battle," Volume 2 of his "Liberation Trilogy."

Tom Brokaw, the former NBC anchor who immortalized the World War II population as "The Greatest Generation," looks at the Vietnam War and other news from the 1960s in "Boom." Two other books will focus on the Sept. 11 attacks: Philip Shenon's "The Commission," an inside look at the bipartisan panel that issued the 9/11 commission report, and Susan Faludi's "The Terror Dream," a look at how the attacks affected the culture.

"What struck me more than anything was how we were not able to deal with 9/11 in any deep and searching way," says Faludi, whose previous books include "Backlash," a look at antifeminist propaganda in the 1980s.

"We were having this real John Wayne fantasy. You had Bush talking about bin Laden being wanted, dead or alive. You had 'trend' stories being written about women wanting to go home and bake cookies."

One of the highlights of the season will be the posthumous publication of David Halberstam's "Coldest Winter," a history of the Korean War and what Halberstam regarded as the arrogant miscalculations of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Story: A List of New Titles

While Halberstam, who died in a car crash last spring, won't be able to promote the book, several of his colleagues are going on the road on his behalf. Joan Didion, Seymour Hersh, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Anna Quindlen are among the authors who will read from the work in cities across the country.

Political books roll on, regardless of the election cycle, with Paul Krugman, Thomas Oliphant and the late Molly Ivins among the liberals, and Michael Gerson, Norman Podhoretz and Ann Coulter scheduled from the right.

A favorite of conservatives, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, will be featured in two books this fall. His memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," is scheduled to come out in early October, two weeks after Jeffrey Toobin's "The Nine," a behind-the-scenes look into the current court.

The fall will feature works by and about the Bush administration, including first daughter Jenna Bush's "Ana's Story," a young adult book; and "Blue Skies, No Fences," a memoir by Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice president. A leading Bush critic, former CIA official Valerie Plame, recalls her career in intelligence — and the outing that ended it — in "Fair Game."

For those anxious about the economy, the big book will be Alan Greenspan's "The Age of Turbulence," for which the former Federal Reserve chair received a reported $8.5 million advance. For those who seek the country's true pulse, a Mr. Stephen G. Colbert presents "I Am America (and So Can You)."

"I'm going to crush Greenspan," the Comedy Central star told The Associated Press. "His publisher made a huge mistake putting out his book at the same time as mine, because he is going to be eating my dust."

Colbert, incidentally, is now a "Bernanke" man, referring to Greenspan's successor at the Fed, Ben Bernanke. Asked what Bernanke has that Greenspan doesn't, Colbert quipped, "A job."

"He's helping this president. Greenspan, he chickened out."

Books by and about other presidents also will arrive. Former President Carter's "Beyond the White House," looks back on his post-presidential years. A previous Carter book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which angered some supporters of Israel, if only for the title, will come out in paperback with a new afterword.

Bill and Hillary Clinton, the nation's once and possibly future first couple, continue their reign in the hearts of the publishing world. The former president celebrates public service in "Giving," while his marriage and White House years are revisited by Sally Bedell Smith's "For Love of Politics."

Another presidential book is Conrad Black's 1,100-page "Nixon," a biography of the former president. Nixon, who resigned amid numerous allegations of wrongdoing, might be too perfect a subject. Black, former chairman and CEO of Hollinger Inc., has been convicted on three charges of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. He is to be sentenced in November, the same month PublicAffairs releases his book.

"The nature of our culture often involves strange juxtapositions and my only concern would be that the book not be read on its own merits," says PublicAffairs publisher Peter Osnos, who adds that Black likely will do interviews.

"Conrad Black understands the historical nature of Nixon's importance as a political figure, but he also understands the pitfalls of fame and what happens when you get into the limelight in a negative way. He has an understanding of Nixon's character that perhaps he wouldn't have had otherwise."

Fiction releases offer a full mix of the literary and the commercial. Highlights include John Grisham's "Playing for Pizza"; Alice Sebold's "Almost Moon," her first since the million-selling "The Lovely Bones"; Ann Packer's "Music Without Words"; and Denis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke," by the author of "Jesus' Son."

Other notable books include Philip Roth's "Exit Ghost," his last to include protagonist Nathan Zuckerman; Tom Perrotta's "The Abstinence Teacher," from the author of "Election" and "Little Children"; and Richard Russo's "Bridge of Sighs," which has earned at least one important fan: Barnes & Noble Inc. fiction buyer Sessalee Hensley.

"'Bridge of Sighs' was my favorite read of the summer. Every time I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to get back to it," says Hensley, who also praised Sebold's novel and Ha Jin's "A Free Life."

Four of the most celebrated living poets — John Ashbery and former poet laureates Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Mark Strand — have new collections. But the season's biggest seller will likely be Caroline Kennedy's "A Family Christmas," with those represented ranging from E.B. White and Mark Twain to Kennedy's grandmother, Rose F. Kennedy, and that famous bard, Mariah Carey.

"It is very eclectic," agreed Will Schwalbe, editor in chief of Hyperion, which will release the book in October. "It is really both serious and fan, and that makes it very unusual."