Immense Presidential Lives Top Spring List of Biographies

Presidential lives top the list of major biographies slated for publication this spring, which should keep Washington readers happy.

By James McGrath Morris

Presidential lives top the list of major biographies slated for publication this spring, which should keep readers happy.

In particular, two massive works on singularly important American political figures will get a lot of attention. In May, Knopf will release Robert A. Caro’s The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, the fourth in his five-volume presidential biography. The following month Simon & Schuster will publish David Maraniss’s much anticipated, 608-page Barack Obama: The Story. The timing of the book should increase the interest in it, as its content might affect the 2012 presidential election.

Already in stores is Jean Edward Smith’s Eisenhower in War and Peace, from Random House. Following the publication of Jim Newton’s Eisenhower: The White House Years, which Doubleday published last fall, Smith’s book continues the revival of interest in the 34th president. Author and journalist Evan Thomas is also at work on an Eisenhower biography.

The intriguing story of Henry Adams’s wife, Marian Hooper Adams, has fascinated many since her death by suicide in 1885. Her tale will be told in Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, by Natalie Dykstra, which Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released in February.

A television news icon of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, whose line “And that’s the way it is” echoes in the minds of anyone above a certain age, is the subject of Douglas Brinkley’s new book. HarperCollins will publish Cronkite in May.

Readers who love humor and the absurdities of life will find a lot to like in a forthcoming examination of the author of one of the best-loved books of the early 1980s. Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces, by Cory MacLauchlin will be published by Da Capo in March.


In June, Farrar, Straus and Giroux will bring out an American edition of Gordon Bowker’s James Joyce: A New Biography, which came out to considerable acclaim in England last year. Also of interest to the literary set will be A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman, by Alice Kessler-Harris, which Bloomsbury will send to stores in April.

A large number of books on musical figures will emerge this season. For readers who can’t always get what they want, there will be Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger, by Christopher Andersen, which Simon & Shuster will publish in July.

Timed with the arrival of the baseball season will be Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick by Paul Dickson, one of Washington’s most prolific writers, from Walker & Company.

Last, but not least, royalty is getting the regal treatment this spring because of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. One count showed more than a dozen titles vying for attention during the celebration. Among the first out of the gate, is Random House’s Elizabeth the Queen: Inside the Life of a Modern Monarch, by Sally Bedell Smith.

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