The following authors will appear at the Savannah Book Festival, set for Feb. 13-16 in downtown Savannah. See the full festival schedule here.
"The Aviator's Wife: A Novel"
"The Aviator's Wife," the latest New York Times bestselling novel from historical fiction author Melanie Benjamin, tells the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh. Benjamin imagines the details of the couple's often tumultuous relationship, taking the reader from its fairytale beginnings, through the trying heart of the marriage, to Anne's realization of the true nature of love and the reclamation of her independence. Praised by both critics and fans alike, the novel has recently been optioned for film, and is currently under development by actor Jennifer Garner's production company, with Garner set to play the lead.
Melanie Benjamin has published two previous novels of historical fiction, "The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb" (2011) and "Alice I Have Been" (2010). In addition, she published two contemporary fiction novels under her real name, Melanie Lynne Hauser. She is a native of Indianapolis and currently resides in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons.
A. Scott Berg
A. Scott Berg burst onto the scene in 1978 with his book "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius," a biography of the famed literary editor. The biography won the National Book Award and kicked off a career that has seen Berg produce intricately researched books about once a decade. His third book, "Lindbergh" (1998), a biography of aviator Charles Lindburgh, won the Pulitzer Prize. All five of his published biographies have been recognized as national bestsellers.
Berg's latest book, "Wilson," is the most detailed account yet of the life of President Woodrow Wilson, coming a full century after he first took office. The story is pieced together from hundreds of thousands of documents, including some never before available, and it paints a portrait of America's 28th president that is both human and iconic. Berg convincingly argues that Wilson was one of the prime world players ushering in the modern age following the First World War. At the same time, Berg successfully reveals Wilson's personal side, a complex individual replete with feelings, faults and triumphs.
"This Dark Road to Mercy"
Wiley Cash's new novel, "This Dark Road to Mercy," released in January, has already been met with critical acclaim. A contemporary take on Southern gothic, the novel explores a North Carolina family both brought together and pushed apart by the death of their mother and their father's dark past. Deep suspense threads together the family drama and drives the plot forward, while several narrators captivate the reader with some of the best Southern dialect found in recent literature.
Cash published one previous novel, "A Land More Kind than Home" (2012), which landed on the New York Times bestseller list as both a hardcover and paperback. This propelled Cash to the forefront of Southern fiction, where he continues to write with the unflinching darkness of the gothic tradition, while embracing the almost innocent hope of authors like Harper Lee. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and currently lives with his wife in North Carolina, where both his novels are set.
"Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World"
Most Savannahians are familiar with Johnny Mercer. His name can be found on street signs. His statue leans in Ellis Square. Mercer is one of Savannah's favorite sons, but the average resident probably doesn't know much more about the man than a few of his songs.
Glenn Eskew's new biography, "Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World," explores the lyricist's global importance. Eskew argues that, with more than 1,500 songs to his credit, many of them enduring classics, Mercer was one of a handful of musicians most influential in shaping popular musical culture in the 1940s and '50s. For all his successes as a songwriter, many people forget Mercer was also active in the music industry. For example, he co-founded the estimable Capitol Records in 1942 and served as its president until 1946. This biography provides even avid Mercer fans with new insights into the professional life of Savannah's most famous musician.
Eskew teaches history at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and has previously written and edited a number of important texts, including "But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle," an award-winning study of the civil rights era.
"Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation"
John Ferling has dedicated his life to enriching our understanding of the American Revolution and revealing the human character behind the iconic images of the nation's founders. Recognized as one of the pre-eminent historians of the early republic, he has been a featured expert in numerous television documentaries, including work on PBS and major cable networks. His dozen published books about the American Revolutionary period combine a scholarly thoroughness with an empathetic understanding of the men and women behind the larger story, making his works both academically important and highly readable.
Ferling's latest work, "Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation," provides one of the first real explorations of how the relationship of these two men had an oversized influence on the burgeoning republic. Two of the most powerful men in the history of America possessed drastically different views concerning the role of the central government, and their debate still holds relevance today, as many of the same arguments seem to arise in modern politics. More than just a battle of ideology, though, the personal nature of the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton makes this work of history also a highly enjoyable story.
"How to Read a Novelist"
This profile could very well have been written by John Freeman himself, perhaps with more eloquence and with a little more room to expound.
One would assume, too, that Freeman knows his own work better than an outsider. But an author profile is exactly the kind of content that makes up his latest book, "How to Read a Novelist." It contains 55 author profiles chosen from Freeman's hundreds of publications as a literary critic and commentator. He covers authors from around the globe, such as Haruki Murakami, Orhan Pamuk and Salman Rushdie; the great American writers of the late 20th century, including Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison; and a slew of contemporary writers, from the contentious Jonathan Franzen to Jennifer Egan to David Foster Wallace.
The profiles all weigh in between seven and 10 pages - perfect reading for a single sitting - and offer insights into the writers' lives, as well as their work.
Freeman previously worked as an editor at Granta and served on the board of the National Book Critics Circle for six years. He lives in New York City, where he writes poetry as well as book reviews and criticism.
It seems fitting that one of science fiction's rising stars got his start in cyberspace.
Hugh Howey wrote his first novelette and self-published it on Amazon. For many writers, that's the end of the story, but for Howey, things were just getting started. The novelette, the first installment in what would eventually become the "Wool" series, gained a rabid readership, and those readers demanded more. Inspired by this support, Howey gave the people what they wanted, and he comes to the Savannah Book Festival to share "Dust," the third full novel in the "Wool" series.
He's not self-publishing anymore. Dust was released by powerhouse publisher Simon & Schuster, and 20th Century Fox recently purchased the rights to make the first book of the "Wool" trilogy into a film.
The series introduces readers to the dystopian world of the Silos, subterranean cities that are the only thing keeping the human race alive following an apocalypse on Earth. The first two books introduce several key storylines, and with "Dust," the final installment, all the tangled plots and character relations are tied together. The series has drawn favorable comparisons to "The Hunger Games," but that sells the series short. While dystopian futures are nothing new in the genre, Howey finds a fresh take and crafts an absorbing world.
If anything can be doubted about Boris Kachka, it's not his chutzpah.
To publish a behind-the-scenes, sometimes unflattering story of one of New York City's most important publishing houses takes confidence. To publish that book at another of the city's biggest houses, Simon & Schuster, would seem to take things a step further.
"Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux" has been met with both praise and hostility. Its proponents applaud the almost playful style of the investigation, accepting the insights and embracing the entertainment value. The critics doubt the accuracy of the portrayal, even going so far as to accuse Kachka of shoddy journalism. This latter reaction would seem to come more from industry insiders, those who know the real inner workings but who also have a vested interest in preserving a positive image. Either way, "Hothouse" seems to elicit a strong reaction, and as another New York institution, the advertising industry, would say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
"The Astronaut Wives Club"
Some of the most celebrated people of the 20th century were the astronauts and cosmonauts who first conquered space. Their names ring like legends: Gagarin, Glenn, Tereshkova, Shepard. Their stories have been told in history texts and popular accounts almost since the day they left Earth. But what did they leave behind?
Lily Koppel answers this question in "The Astronaut Wives Club," the true account of the women behind America's Mercury Seven. In the 1960s, the women became instant celebrities, their close-ups from launch day beamed into homes around the world. Koppel, though, is concerned with the women when the cameras weren't around, their reactions to the dangers their husbands faced on a regular basis, their lives as ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. In a way, these women played a role in the space program more intimate than anyone except maybe the astronauts themselves. Their perspective gives readers a new take on one of humanity's greatest accomplishments.
Koppel writes for The New York Times, Daily Beast, Huffington Post and Glamour, and her first book, "The Red Letter Diary," was a New York Times bestseller. She lives in New York City with her husband.
"A Little Salvation: Poems Old and New"
There are authors from Georgia and then there are Georgia authors. Judson Mitcham is the latter, his writing not just set in the South but grown from the language and culture.
His poems read like family stories shared on a Southern front porch on a hot, slow summer afternoon. His novels capture something essential about the local way of life, not just about how it is, but about how it has been. Maybe that's the real quality of Southern literature: Harkening back to the mood of the distant agricultural past, earthy and familial and patient.
Mitcham's writing has been acknowledged with just about every major award in Georgia, culminating with his appointment as the state's poet laureate in 2012 and induction into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2013. Prior to that, his two novels each won the Townsend Prize for Fiction, awarded every two years for an outstanding book of fiction by a Georgia author, and he was twice named Georgia Author of the Year, as both a poet and novelist. His most recent book, the poetry collection "A Little Salvation: Poems Old and New," was published in 2007 by University of Georgia Press. He lives in Macon with his wife, Jean.
Claudia Roth Pierpont
Philip Roth is a man who has always seemed larger than books he's written. Stories about him, apocryphal or not, abound, so it's a little hard to imagine an authoritative account of his life.
That, however, is exactly what Claudia Roth Pierpont has undertaken. Despite the shared name, Roth Pierpont shares no relation to Roth, approaching the topic of his life as much an outsider as anybody. She compiles all the public information on Roth and fashions from it the first complete account of the life of the man. While there isn't information that's new or newly discovered, even the biggest Roth fan should have no trouble finding something enlightening in the biography.
Roth Pierpont has been writing for New Yorker since 1990, covering a diverse range of contemporary and historical subjects, and a collection of her writings, published in 2000, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She lives in New York City, teaching at NYU and Columbia University.
- Zach Powers
"Glitter and Glue: A Memoir"
The New York Times bestselling author Kelly Corrigan's "Glitter and Glue: A Memoir" depicts a young Kelly fresh out of college and eager to take on the world. She heads abroad with a backpack and traveler's checks and the doe-eyed wonder of a young adult with new possibilities at every turn, the world an oyster for her harvesting. But she quickly faces a fight-or-flight mentality as her savings dwindle and she needs a job, landing her a position as a live-in nanny in a suburb north of Sydney, Australia, where she uses the words of her mother to find her way back home and once more into her mother's heart.
A contributor to O: The Oprah Magazine and Good Housekeeping, Corrigan is also the author of "The Middle Place" and "Lift." She co-founded the annual Notes & Words benefit for the Children's Hospital Oakland. She lives with her husband and two daughters in San Francisco.
"The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls" (Riverhead Books)
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is an equestrienne boarding school. Set in 1930, Anton DiSclafani's latest novel, "The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls," is the coming-of-age story about Thea, a young girl taken from her Florida home and dropped in a world vastly different than the one she'd known. What comes next is a journey of self-discovery, self-assuredness and the mystery surrounding her exile. Weaving between past and present, DiSclafani begs one question: Will she ever go home?
"The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls" traverses the complexities surrounding girls' school rituals and the dichotomies existent between Thea's dream-like childhood and a new challenge marked by uncertainty.
Also reared in north Florida, DiSclafani competed nationally in horseback riding and now teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis, where she received her MFA. Her work has also appeared on NPR's "This American Life."
"The Up Side of Down" (Viking/Penguin Books)
Success in life isn't defined by the moments when we fall, but by how nimbly and quickly we can pick ourselves back up. As the premise of Megan McArdle's new book, "The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success," underscores learning about failing first before regarding success.
Drawing on some of her candidly worst failures, McArdle tackles counterintuitive life lessons and distinguishes learning through failure as the paramount way to true success. Through extensive research spanning the fields of science, psychology and behavioral economics, she discusses ways to break detrimental habits in personal and professional life.
As a Bloomberg blogger and columnist, McArdle is a University of Chicago Booth School of Business graduate and author of "Drive," "Outliers," "Daring Greatly" and "How Children Succeed." She has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist and Newsweek. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their bullmastiff, Fitzgerald.
Jayne Anne Phillips
In 1932, con man and convicted serial killer Harry Powers was hanged in Moundsville, W. Va.
Jayne Anne Phillips grew to hear of Powers' murders from her mother, who often described walking past the "murder garage" in what would later infamously become known as the Quiet Dell murders. Throughout 1931, Powers lured unsuspecting women through lonely hearts ads before taking their lives.
In her latest novel, Phillips wanted to approach the murders in such a way that the "beauty and depth might transcend the darkness of the story." She imagines the story through the lives of the Illinois widow and her children whom he murdered and casts Emily Thornhill, a Chicago Tribune reporter, as the story's heroine.
Phillips is a National Book Award and National Book Critic's Circle Award finalist and the recipient of the Sue Kaufman Prize, the author of "Lark and Termite," "MotherKind," "Shelter" and "Machine Dreams" and two anthologized collections of stories: "Fast Lanes" and "Black Tickets." She is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. She teaches English as the director of the MFA program at Rutgers in New Jersey.
Anita Shreve is a New York Times bestselling author of 17 novels, most recently, "Rescue." Her latest novel, "Stella Bain," is the culmination of several years' research into post-traumatic stress syndrome, colloquially known as shell shock.
The year is 1916 and a woman dressed in a British nurse aide's outfit awakens in a northern France field hospital. She has an American accent and no memory of what brought her there or how she became wounded. She knows only this: she can drive an ambulance and her name is Stella Bain. World War I rages on in the periphery as Stella searches for answers and enlists the help of Dr. August Bridge, a surgeon. Through what she cobbles together of her past, Stella is faced with truths that could lead to her death or survival.
Shreve's "The Pilot's Wife" received attention as a selection for Oprah's Book Club. "The Weight of Water" was a finalist for England's Orange Prize. She lives and writes in Massachusetts.
"American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
The focal point of critics' disdain and ridicule throughout his lifetime as the star illustrator of the Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell lived a life of loneliness, mired by depression and plagued by a sense of inadequacy.
"The thrill of his work," Deborah Solomon writes in her biography of the iconic American artist, "is that he was able to use a commercial form (that of magazine illustration) to thrash out his private obsessions."
"American Mirror" explores the life of the fabled painter and illustrator, who donned an unofficial title of "artist in chief" of a nation and aligned himself with friends such as President Dwight Eisenhower and the generation of painters who brought on a Golden Age of illustration. Solomon parses unpublished letters and documents that explore much of what, while internally destroying Rockwell, made him resound with an America seeking its own national identity.
Solomon has authored two other biographies about Jackson Pollock and Joseph Cornell. She is a regular art critic for WNYC in New York and wrote the "Questions For" column in The New York Times Magazine for nine years.
"The Polaris Protocol" (Penguin Group USA)
The Global Positioning System, our satellite navigation system, is ubiquitous. It guides us to coffee shops, new destinations or old favorites. We rely heavily on it, carrying one on our persons everywhere we go. It is embedded in our smartphones, laptops and motor vehicles. It directs our commercial air traffic. In one way, it protects our nation, its grip being so far-reaching that it is also invariably vulnerable to attack. So what would happen if the GPS grid shut down?
It's the question posed in "The Polaris Protocol," U.S. Army Ret. Lt. Col. Brad Taylor's latest novel about international distress and the possibility of a system on which we rely so heavily falling into the hands of a hostile expatriate. Known for his appearances on national news networks to discuss such events as the death of Osama Bin Laden, the actions of Hezbollah or the recent passing of novelist Tom Clancy, Taylor's authenticity in his writing comes with a 21-year career in the military, eight of which were spent in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta.
In researching "The Polaris Protocol," Taylor visited with the commander of the 2nd SOPS stationed at Schriever Air Force Base, the mission control point for the Navstar GPS satellite constellation. The Pike Logan thriller stars Pike, Jennifer and their Taskforce as they battle for control of the GPS system that has fallen in the hands of a terrorist. National security hangs in the balance in the latest thriller by the New York Times bestselling author.
In her 12th book, "Snapshot," Lis Wiehl takes inspiration from a photo of her as a 4-year-old at a civil rights rally. When the picture was taken nearly half a century ago, the nation struggled to grapple with its civil rights laws and marchers protested throughout the American South. Oftentimes, demonstrations turned violent, but when FBI Agent Richard Wiehl went undercover on assignment to a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, he snapped a heart-warming photo of his daughter making friends with an African-American child.
As part of his cover on that day, Wiehl stands as a testament to adolescent innocence, indifferent to the skin color and the volatility it caused for so many years. Fifty years after the photo was taken, Agent Wiehl found the black-and-white images and inspired his daughter's latest work.
A third-generation federal prosecutor, Harvard Law School graduate and regular Fox News Channel commentator, Wiehl writes about the photo in her latest legal thriller, which aims to embody that moment frozen in time. She is also a professor of law at New York Law School and the host of "Wiehl of Justice," a Fox production. She lives in Westchester County, N.Y.
- Kenneth Rosen
"End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy"
History writer James Swanson turns his attention from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy in his new book, "End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy." Swanson, an Edgar Award-winning author of the New York Times bestsellers "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer" and its sequel, "Bloody Crimes: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis," tells the minute-by-minute details of the JFK assassination from the president's arrival in Texas on Nov. 22, 1963, to the aftermath that continues to draw controversy 50 years later.
Swanson is known as a presidential historian and has held numerous government and think-tank positions in Washington, D.C., including with the Department of Justice.
While "End of Days" doesn't offer any new insights into the assassination or supposed conspiracy theories, the book contains a sweeping amount of research retold in great detail and illustrated with photographs.
- Kim Wade
"Trident K9 Warriors"
Mike Ritland served 12 years as an active-duty Navy SEAL before starting his own company that trains canines for the military, police or other services. Ritland credits a military K9 who saved several lives during an operation his SEAL team conducted alongside Marines in 2003 in Tikrit, Iraq, for inspiring his devotion to working with and training dogs.
His book, "Trident K9 Warriors: My Tale from the Training Ground," tells the story of military special operation dogs and how they're trained, detailing some of the incredible missions in which they've taken part. A New York Times bestseller, "Trident" is the public's first look into the lives of SEAL dogs.
Today, Ritland runs Trikos International, where he trains canines to serve with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Defense and for private individuals. He is also the founder of the Warrior Dog Foundation that aims to help retired Special Operations K9s transition into long, happy retirements.
- Do Savannah