Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Max Perkins: Editor of Genius” as Want to Read:
Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Max Perkins: Editor of Genius

4.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  673 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews


Winner of the National Book Award
and a National Bestseller...

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 biograph
...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published June 1st 1997 by Riverhead Trade (first published 1978)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Max Perkins, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Max Perkins

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren WeisbergerGirl Sleuth by Melanie RehakThe Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester2003 - Thanks for the Vodka by HarpieThe Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes
Books About Publishing
8th out of 43 books — 21 voters
Van Gogh by Steven NaifehThe Social Animal by David  BrooksAt Home by Bill BrysonZeitoun by Dave EggersThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2012--The intended Reading List
27th out of 69 books — 25 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,076)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Liz
Mar 05, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it
I am definitely one of those people who can't not finish a book, no matter how distasteful I find it to be, if it is work of fiction. Nonfiction, on the other hand, I tend to find really fascinating but less engaging and I usually end up getting distracted by a new novel while attempting to read history, biography, philosophy or theory. A. Scott Berg's biography of Max Perkins, though, is such an insightful, lyrical, and just plain fun work that I found myself as deeply engrossed as I would be i ...more
Ellen
Mar 15, 2008 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, readers, and Berg fans
Shelves: to-re-read
This biography was incredible. Berg is my favorite biographer. He made the life of a bookish editor interesting, and he not only taught me about Perkin's life, but about how an editor can forge an intense relationship with a writer, taking that writer's talent and focusing it and nurturing his writing so that what emerges is a great American novel. Perkins did this for F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby, Thomas Wolf's You Can't Go Home Again, and many other classic American authors. After ...more
Stefanie
Nov 24, 2012 Stefanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating story that is about the authors of Max Perkins as much as it is a biography of Perkins himself. I think the book would be of interest to anyone who enjoys biography, but it's also important an important read for writers, editors, and students of writing and literature.

As for me, the nature of biography is to cover absurd amounts of information, and this biography's nature was especially complicated due to the fact that Perkins lived through his authors and so their stories must be
...more
Kirk
Dec 20, 2007 Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: biolovers
A great biography about one of the unsung heroes of modernist literature. Although Perkins is the most famous fiction editor in known history (sorry, Gordon Lish), little about his personal life and character was widely known before Berg's eminently readable bio. Perkins was a Victorian through and through, so he can come off as a little stodgy, but he was devoted to his writers. The famous trifecta of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Wolfe get a lot of attention, of course---though those familiar wit ...more
Jim
Mar 05, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
For years, Maxwell Perkins has lived in my imagination as an almost mythic literary hero. The Scribners editor famously worked with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe, among others, supporting them through their struggles and gently pushing them to produce work that continues to be read and studied today.

A. Scott Berg’s biography of the man is a remarkable achievement—an intimate, impressively researched work that brings to life not only the shy editor but a score of litera
...more
Grace
Jun 28, 2013 Grace rated it it was amazing
Shelves:
I read this years ago and loved it. Amazing, interesting book!
I am now watching Scott Berg (author of Max Perkins) on BookTV. He is talking about his new book: "38 Nooses, Lincoln, Little Crow and the Beginning of the Frontier's End" I am anxious to get to it.
Suzanne
Mar 05, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Max Perkins was the Scribner's editor during the golden age of American Literature. His clients included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. This is an outstanding work, well-cited and researched. I just loved it.
Ruth
May 06, 2012 Ruth rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has ever spent any time writing or editing for publication should read this book. Max Perkins was, without a doubt, the best editor of American fiction in the 20th century. This book is entertaining and insightful.
Karen
Oct 14, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was like candy to me, with its in depth look into both publishing and an era of American history that fascinates me, the pre WWII, Depression era and on. Not to mention the inside view of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe and many other great American authors, how they worked, how they were edited, how their publisher literally supported them at times.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife had an extravagant, wasteful lifestyle and money evaporated. He was always calling his editor, Max P
...more
Jennifer
Sep 16, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Anyone who loves books should read this one... for its anecdotes and behind-the-scenes glimpses of a man who is arguably the world's greatest lover of books. For insights into how some of the the 20th century's literary giants worked, how they squabbled like grade schoolers, and how ersatz father Perkins kept them all in line. For a portrait of a complex man with sharp corners who was capable of profound affection, one with misogynist tendencies who championed women authors, one with strong yank ...more
Stacy
Jun 20, 2011 Stacy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, sympathetic account of a gentle man and excellent editor. One thing I've wondered since reading this book is if anyone has taken Thomas Wolfe's brain tumors into account regarding his rift with Perkins shortly before his death. It just seems bizarre that Wolfe would turn on Perkins the way he did. It seems to me his many brain tumors—along with his attempts to self-medicate by drinking heavily—were the culprits of his behavior. In other words, I don't think he was responsible for the ...more
Catherine
Nov 01, 2013 Catherine rated it really liked it
Perkins, most notably, was the editor who discovered, nurtured, protected and avidly supported Fitzgerald and Hemmingway (he also mediated their belles-lettres fights). This wonderful biography treats Perkins very sympathetically and focuses on the ways in which Perkins defined and re-defined the role of an editor. While Berg's account is based on letters and other first-hand material, the biography reads almost like a novel, simple and straightforward - all the citations are at the end. It is a ...more
Siria
May 31, 2010 Siria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
A really interesting biography of Max Perkins, an editor most well-known now for discovering F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe—though he also edited many bestsellers of the 20s, 30s and 40s which are now forgotten. There are times when Berg's coyness in telling anonymous anecdotes, coupled with his seeming desire to excuse Perkins' sexism with sexism, makes for a slightly frustrating read. Perhaps it might also be more enjoyable for people who have an interest in Perkins' mo ...more
Philip
Feb 14, 2013 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An essential book for anyone interested in how books were edited and published in the first half of the twentiety century, when publishing houses such as Scribners, Doubleday, Random House and Knopf were privately-owned and not merely extended tentacles of corporations only interest in the bottom line, and a handshake could literally seal the deal on a book. Perkins helped shape the books of authors ranging from Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Wolfe to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Marcia Davenport, and T ...more
Lorraine
Jan 30, 2011 Lorraine rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book and found myself drawing it out over a period of weeks rather than tearing through like I usually do. It's such a great time-piece of this particular era of new york and publishing, I wonder what Max Perkins would be like today; if he'd be the same type of extremely devoted editor. aside from this lamentation,, I learned so much about Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe, who was rather mad but had the desire to see everything he lived in prose. (I'm reading Look Hom ...more
Colleen
Mar 03, 2009 Colleen rated it it was amazing
I thought the book was fascinating. Max Perkins was the editor of Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolf, and more. The book traces his relationships with these literary figures and basically tracks the writing and editing process of their bodies of work. I loved learning more about the writing/editing process; the authors; Max Perkins; the historical time in NYC. The writing is stiff and pretty bland. It's a biography, but I highly recommend it. I like it even more now that I've had time to think ...more
Janetiokepa
Aug 11, 2011 Janetiokepa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who cares about the literature of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolf, Ernest Hemingway, (and lots of other famous authors) should read this book! Max Perkins was the editor at Scribner's who worked intimately with so many unknowns and truly assisted them in publishing their works. The biography is researched thoroughly and includes tons of materials from letters these individuals wrote to each other, from their journals, from conversations, etc. It's fascinating. I gained a tremendous respe ...more
Richard Wheeler
Mar 16, 2012 Richard Wheeler rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book. I read it periodically. Max Perkins was the finest editor in American letters. Somehow, I associate with him, and wish I might have lived a life as accomplished as his. He nurtured the literary genius of a score of great writers, such as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Wolfe, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I'm seventy-seven but wish I had been born a little earlier and had lived in this time, and edited books in the time when Perkins was stamping American literature with his insi ...more
Ricardo Santos
May 22, 2016 Ricardo Santos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
William Maxwell Evarts Perkins, filho de duas famílias tradicionais de Nova York, aluno de Harvard, tornou-se uma lenda no mundo editorial dos EUA no início do século 20. Trabalhando na sisuda editora Scribner, Perkins mudou a literatura americana ao descobrir autores como F. Scott Fitzgerald e Ernest Hemingway. A Scribner tinha uma reputação consolidada, publicando clássicos universais e autores americanos do século 19. Mas o jovem editor Perkins queria trabalhar com autores com linguagens e vi ...more
Richard N.
Mar 02, 2016 Richard N. rated it it was amazing
I tend to read mysteries and thriller fiction. The best of those keep me up at night reading, and I find myself picking them up at odd times to see what happens next. I tend to seldom read "literature", and had to go to Wikipedia to ensure that Thomas Wolfe and Tom Wolfe were different people. I do like biographies, though, and this biography was hard to put down. It is about the Scribner's editor, Max Perkins, and his relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald (I have read The Great Gatsby), Ernest ...more
Anne
Jul 10, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing
I can't express enough my pleasure with having read this book. I'm very interested in the craft of editing and self-editing and this book is a master class in how it's done. It's done with heart, and obsession. It's a wonderful inside look into the golden age of American literature -- the other side of the desk that discovered Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Wolfe, and so many others. The good advice for writers comes intermittently and should not be overlooked. If you have any preconceived notions about ...more
Rafaela Souza
Apr 25, 2016 Rafaela Souza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A biografia de Max Perkins dá uma ideia de como é trabalhar no mundo da publicação em tempos difíceis como a grande depressão americana e lidar com autores como Fitzgerald, Hemingway e Thomas Wolfe, o trio de gênios que Perkins descobriu e ajudou.

Perkins não gostava de chamar atenção para si, olhando por cima sua vida pareceu normal e desinteressante mas o editor viveu através dos seus autores ao ponto do esgotamento físico e mental. Suas cartas contem valiosas lições de escrita e também de amor
...more
Jessica Thelander
Nov 07, 2015 Jessica Thelander rated it it was amazing
If ever there was a book that gave someone an idea of what it means to work in publishing, this one is it. The book is centered around Scribner's editor Max Perkins, a brilliant editor who oversaw the publication of works like The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, Cry the Beloved Country, and more. The background work that was done for this book is truly astonishing. In an effort to portray Perkins's life as accurately as possible, Berg relied entirely on primary sources, including thousands of ...more
Philip
May 27, 2009 Philip rated it it was amazing
Fascinating is an understatement.

While I was generally aware that writers, as artists, live passionate and interesting lives, I had no idea the level of madness involved conceiving and producing some of the greatest literary works of the 20th century. The reader will be surprised to learn about the force (Maxwell Perkins) that supported and encouraged authors such as Fitzgerald, Heminway, Wolfe, Jones, and many others.
Thelma Adams
Mar 26, 2016 Thelma Adams rated it it was amazing
On the first day I met my agent, Victoria Sanders, she recommended two books. One was about Max Perkins. Since then I've written and sold a book The Last Woman Standing: A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp and started the next proposal. Even though I am not a biography reader (my bad), I sat down to read A. Scott Berg's massive biography of the Scribner's editor Maxwell Perkins, the man behind writers as famous yet as diverse as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Ring Lardner and Marjor ...more
Chris Rand
Jan 14, 2010 Chris Rand rated it it was amazing
There's no better window into the authorial lives of Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and all of the Perkins geniuses. Every word in this book is like an entree at a five star restaurant. Berg's heavy studying of the editor's and authors' lives is clear in that their personalities shine right through the prose.

I think anyone remotely interested in books would love this biography.
Lynne Fort
Jul 11, 2014 Lynne Fort rated it it was amazing
This book is a lot more than a dry history of a man who worked with remarkable writers. It is a beautifully written book in itself. It details the psychological struggles of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Wolfe as they attempted to deal with their own personal demons and to create. And it contains so many details of Perkins’ own style of helping authors that it could really be considered a guide of sorts. This book addresses mental illness, alcoholism, marital crises, financial struggles, politics, a ...more
Dan White
Apr 25, 2016 Dan White rated it it was amazing
The book's subtitle is a little bit much but I loved this clearly written, engaging portrait of a brilliant, troubled man who had an uncanny gift for discovering, nurturing, coddling, cajoling and promoting writers. The book takes a shadowy (for me, anyway!) figure in 20th century American literature and brings him to the forefront with help from the reams of correspondence he shared with a woman he adored but only from a distance; Perkins's letters serve as a kind of working journal that gives ...more
Dave Jenkins
Nov 23, 2015 Dave Jenkins rated it really liked it
Books like these make you appreciate the hard work and difficulty that go into producing literature for the masses. it also makes you want to be a part of the process.
Callie
Feb 07, 2012 Callie rated it really liked it
If you are interested in the writing process or writers, this book is fascinating. Full of anecdotes about Hemingway, Fitgerald, Thomas WOlfe and others. Even these literary giants had feet of clay, meaning: they doubted themselves, they got lazy and distracted, they needed help shaping their writing, they wrote for money, etc. etc.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 69 70 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do
  • Another Life: A Memoir of Other People
  • At Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf
  • The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself)
  • The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself
  • Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
  • Lapsing Into a Comma: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--And How to Avoid Them
  • Stet: An Editor's Life
  • Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults
  • Timebends: A Life
  • How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
  • Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s
  • Wolf: The Lives of Jack London
  • Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams - The Early Years 1903 - 1940
  • George Orwell: The Authorised Biography
  • Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers
  • Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan
  • A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates

Share This Book



“Max said little. His essential quality was always to say little, but by powerful empathy for writers and for books to draw out of them what they had it in them to say and to write.” 1 likes
“There’s a good feeling about them. It’s something I like to find in fiction. So many writers master form and technique, but get so little feeling into their work. I think that’s important.” 1 likes
More quotes…