"The Coldest Winter," the final book he completed before his fatal car crash last spring, will be published by Hyperion in late September with an announced first printing of around 300,000. Friends and family of the author, known for his Vietnam War reporting, say that he had been especially proud of "Coldest Winter," a history of the Korean War and what Halberstam regarded as the arrogant miscalculations of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
"He thought that it was the best work he had done since 'The Best and the Brightest,'" says Halberstam's widow, Jean Halberstam, referring to her husband's book on Vietnam. "He had been thinking about doing this book since he was in Vietnam. It was always in the back of his mind."
Highlights of the promotional tour will include Didion reading in New York City, former basketball great Bill Walton in La Jolla, Calif., Hersh in Washington, D.C., Anna Quindlen in Milwaukee and Goodwin and fellow author Samantha Power in Cambridge, Mass.
Jean Halberstam recalled that after her husband's death, Goodwin, Quindlen and others quickly offered to help promote "Coldest Winter," to "get on a plane and fly anywhere." David Halberstam had done the same for his friend J. Anthony Lukas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who committed suicide in 1997, not long before his last book, "Big Trouble," was published.
"He had a gift for friendship," says novelist Ward Just, a longtime friend who will read in Martha's Vineyard, the island off Cape Cod where Halberstam had a home for many years.
"He'd call me up and say, 'What are you working on, Just? What are you up to?' And he always had an idea for a novel he thought I should write. And these ideas always came from the book he was currently working on. In the year before he died, he had about four ideas for the Korean War novel he thought I should write."
It 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."
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. 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."
Studs Terkel, the oral historian famous for talking to the nonfamous, has a memoir due, "Touch and Go," while comedian and former talk show host Rosie O'Donnell reveals how she survived in "Celebrity Detox."
Others confiding include Steve Martin, Alan Alda, Dorothy Hamill and a bunch of rock stars, including Eric Clapton, Slash, Tom Petty and Rolling Stone Ron Wood, whose self-titled book is perhaps a warm-up for band mate Keith Richards' planned memoir in 2010.
"All of them will be on my night stand, stacked," Colbert promised.
And which will be on top?
"Whichever one my drink is resting on."
y HILLEL ITALIE
AP National Writer