Fall Books Preview
BY MARIE ARANA  |  SEPTEMBER 9, 2007

Here is a finger on the pulse of our times. What does it say about our culture that three sharply differing views of American life -- TV pastor Joel Osteen's "Become a Better You," Philip Roth's rueful novel about aging and Alan Greenspan's jittery "The Age of Turbulence" -- arrive just as the presidential race heats up and we contemplate the country's future? It's instructive, and no less revealing, to see the patterns such clusters make as fresh titles rush into stores, eager to win our attention -- a kind of zeitgeist of the day. What follows is a quick, by no means complete list of books due to land on our desks over the next six months. A fascinating snapshot of America.

Views of America

Coal River, by Michael Shnayerson (Farrar Straus Giroux, Jan.). A grassroots group in West Virginia fights Big Coal to keep Appalachia green.

I Am America (and So Can You!), by Stephen Colbert (Grand Central, Oct.). How America can get its groove back, by the host of TV's "The Colbert Report."

Memo to the President Elect, by Madeleine Albright (HarperCollins, Jan.). From the former secretary of state: a to-do list for nervous times.

Never Enough, by Joe McGinniss (Simon & Schuster, Nov.). The author of Fatal Vision pens a real-life whodunit about the notorious Kissel murders in Hong Kong and Connecticut.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, by Jeffrey Toobin (Doubleday, Sept.). The last quarter century has been high noon in the high court of the land.

The Ten-Cent Plague, by David Hajdu (FSG, March). How comic books spooked -- and forever altered -- the nation.

The Terror Dream, by Susan Faludi (Metropolitan, Oct.). The morning of Sept. 11 and the transfiguration of the American mind.


The World

A Contract with the Earth, by Newt Gingrich and Terry L. Maple (Johns Hopkins Univ., Oct.). A bipartisan call for a new era in environmental stewardship.

Gomorrah, by Roberto Saviano (FSG, Oct.). Caught in the grip of an organized crime network, Naples is rife with murder, toxic substances and illicit Chinese goods.

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (FSG, Sept.). Two political scientists claim America's pro-Israeli stance is not in its best interest.

Marching Toward Hell, by Michael Scheuer (Free Press, Feb.). A former CIA counterterrorism expert offers a fierce indictment of the war in Iraq.

Revolution of Hope, by Vicente Fox and Rob Allyn (Viking, Oct.). America, take down this wall. By the former president of Mexico.

Turning Back the Clock, by Umberto Eco (Harcourt, Nov.). The novelist and Nobel winner ruminates about our troubled times.


History

Churchill and the Jews, by Martin Gilbert (Henry Holt, Oct.). The prime minister's lifelong commitment to Jewish rights.

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, by David Halberstam (Hyperion, Sept.). Epic history from the late, lamented journalist.

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, by Rick Atkinson (Holt, Oct.). The sequel to his award-winning An Army at Dawn.

The FBI, by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (Yale, Sept.). Splitting duties between the FBI and the CIA in 1947 was a big mistake, J. Edgar Hoover was not as important as you think, and other revelations.

The Great Experiment, by Strobe Talbott (S&S, Jan.). How mere tribes became great nations.

Red Moon Rising, by Matthew Brzezinski (Times, Sept.). The launch of Sputnik and the rise of the space age.

The Rest Is Noise, by Alex Ross (FSG, Oct.). A history of the 20th century through its remarkable music.

Return to Dragon Mountain, by Jonathan D. Spence (Viking, Sept.). The surprisingly modern era of Ming dynasty China, as seen through the life of a 17th-century intellectual.

The Siege of Mecca, by Yaroslav Trofimov (Doubleday, Sept.). The harrowing 1979 raid on Islam's holiest shrine may have signaled the birth of al-Qaeda.

A Slave No More, by David W. Blight (Harcourt, Nov.). The slave narratives of two Americans serve as eye-opening corridors to history.

What Hath God Wrought, by Daniel Walker Howe (Oxford, Oct.). Three decades that transformed us, from the battle of New Orleans to the Mexican-American War.

Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?, by James J. Sheehan (Houghton, Jan.). The rejection of violence after World War II redefined a continent. Europe chose material well-being over war.

The Zookeeper's Wife, by Diane Ackerman (Norton, Sept.). The Warsaw Zoo became a refuge for Jews during the height of Nazi fury.


Religion

Become a Better You, by Joel Osteen (Free, Oct.). The television pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston -- "the fastest growing church in America" -- exhorts us to develop our inner lives. With its 3-million copy debut, this is the biggest print run of the season.

The Bible, by Karen Armstrong (Grove/Atlantic, Nov.). The guru of religious commentary throws light on Christianity's sacred text.

The Book of Psalms, by Robert Alter (Norton, Sept.). A new translation and interpretation of one of the Bible's most cherished books.

Discovering God, by Rodney Stark (HarperOne, Oct.). Why did the major religions sprout up at about the same time, and why do they have so much in common?

God's Harvard, by Hanna Rosin (Harcourt, Sept.). A year and a half in the cradle of American evangelism, Patrick Henry College.

Head and Heart: American Christianities, by Garry Wills (Penguin, Oct.) From the early Puritans to the Bush White House, a grand tour by a leading American scholar.

I Don't Believe in Atheists, by Chris Hedges (Free, March). The author of American Fascists throws a hard punch at the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

A Secular Age, by Charles Taylor (Harvard Univ., Sept.). How the role of religion has changed dramatically in recent centuries.

What's So Great About Christianity, by Dinesh D'Souza (Regnery, Oct.). Christianity is growing everywhere, says this author, which is why nonbelievers are up in arms.


Science

The Immortalists, by David M. Friedman (Ecco, Sept.). Charles Lindbergh, Alexis Carrel and a plan to keep man alive forever.

A Life Decoded, by J. Craig Venter (Viking, Oct.). The geographer of the human genome maps out his own past.

Musicophilia, by Oliver Sacks (Knopf, Oct.). Here is your brain on music, by the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

The Secret History of the War on Cancer, by Devra Davis (Basic, Oct.). A dread disease claims 1.5 million since 1970, while corporate greed and corruption go unchecked.

The Stuff of Thought, by Steven Pinker (Penguin, Sept.). Harvard's famous linguist, on how words make the man -- and woman.

The Toothpick, by Henry Petroski (Knopf, Oct.). What one humble object reveals about technology and culture.


Biography & Memoir

The Age of Turbulence, by Alan Greenspan (Penguin, Sept.). From a Depression-era childhood to the helm of the global economy.

Brother, I'm Dying, by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf, Sept.). The Haitian-born novelist tells the story of her uncle, a charismatic pastor.

The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, by Glenn Kessler (St. Martin's, Sept.). A new portrait of the secretary of state, from The Post's diplomatic correspondent.

Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis, by Ed Sikov (Holt, Nov.). Liquor and longing, not to mention all that talent.

Diana Ross, by J. Randy Taraborrelli (Citadel, Sept.). Backstage with the goddess of soul.

For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell Smith (Random House, Oct.). The marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton survives by dint of their mutual ambitions.

A Global Life, by James D. Wolfensohn (PublicAffairs, Feb.). From Wall Street to the World Bank, with troubles and triumphs along the way.

A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, by John Richardson (Knopf, Nov.). A much-awaited third volume.

My Grandfather's Son, by Clarence Thomas (Harper, Oct.). His father left him when he was 1, but he rose from hunger in rural Georgia to a seat on the Supreme Court.

Nureyev, by Julie Kavanagh (Pantheon, Oct.). The Russian superstar who reinvented ballet.

One Drop, by Bliss Broyard (Little, Brown, Sept.). As he lay dying of cancer, a celebrated literary critic told his WASP-y, privileged children that he was black.

Schulz and Peanuts, by David Michaelis (HarperCollins, Oct.). From modest Midwestern roots to the heart of the American imagination.

Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice, by Janet Malcolm (Yale, Sept.). The fiery author of The Journalist and the Murderer, on a 40-year "marriage."

Why Women Should Rule the World, by Dee Dee Myers (Harper, Feb.). Bill Clinton's press secretary talks up her muscle in Washington's corridors of power.

Young Stalin, by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Knopf, Oct.). A callow poet and trained priest, this rebel sought to change the world.


Business &the Economy

The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economists, by Jonathan Chait (Houghton, Sept.). And the bad news is that they're still here.

Creating a World Without Poverty, by Muhammad Yunus (PublicAffairs, Jan.). The Nobel Prize winner argues for a free market with heart.

The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein (Metropolitan, Sept.). Capitalist opportunists have exploited terrible disaster -- e.g., Katrina, the Asian tsunami -- to make themselves rich.

Superclass, by David Rothkopf (FSG, March). A hard look at the powerful business leaders of our time and how their ambitions shape lives.


Letters & Essays

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters (Penguin, Nov.). Annotated and previously unpublished, this promises to be a literary milestone.

Due Considerations, by John Updike (Knopf, Oct.). Essays and criticism by one of America's great living writers.

Other Colors, by Orhan Pamuk (Knopf, Sept.). Last year's Nobel Prize winner gathers up his essays, throws in a story and illustrates them with his own hand.
The Abstinence Teacher, by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin's, Oct.). Sex Ed meets evangelism in this satire by the author of Little Children.

The Air We Breathe, by Andrea Barrett (Norton, Oct.). It is fall, 1916, and America is considering going to war, but among tuberculosis patients in the Adirondacks, time stands still.

The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold (Little, Brown, Oct.). It begins: "When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."

The Bad Girl, by Mario Vargas Llosa (FSG, American letters gives us a picaresque story of doomed love.

Breakfast With Buddha, by Roland Merullo (, Oct.). An all-American publishing executive finds himself on the road with a Mongolian monk.

Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo (Knopf, Oct.). The 60-year-old inheritor of an upstate New York convenience-store chain tries to untangle mysteries in his past.

Dreamsongs: Vol. I and Vol. II, by George R.R. Martin (Spectra, Oct. and Nov., respectively). Two volumes of stories, novellas, plays and commentary by a master of fantasy.

The Elephanta Suite, by Paul Theroux (Houghton, Sept.). Three novellas about travelers forever altered by India.

Eureka, by Jim Lehrer (RH, Oct.). A bored insurance executive tries to recapture his youth, with comic results.

Exit Ghost, by Philip Roth (Houghton, Oct.). Roth's final Zuckerman novel has Nathan at 71, with an embarrassing prostate problem. And yet sex is still very much on his mind.

The Fall of Troy, by Peter Ackroyd (Talese, Nov.). A celebrated German archaeologist digs down to the ancient ruins of Troy but cannot fathom his own marriage.

A Free Life, by Ha Jin (Pantheon, Nov.). The author of Waiting and War Trash now focuses his storytelling skills on America.

Ghost, by Alan Lightman (Pantheon, Oct.). An out-of-work banker takes a job in a mortuary and changes his view of life on Earth.

Lush Life, by Richard Price (FSG, March). From the author of Clockers, a story about men caught in the grind of urban reality.

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, Jan.) By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, a novel about Jews in Spain during the late Middle Ages.

The Quiet Girl, by Peter Hoeg (FSG, Nov.). The author of Smilla's Sense of Snow returns with this story about a clown in a nunnery, sent out to bring back a missing child.

The Race, by Richard North Patterson (Holt, Oct.). A Republican candidate for president learns all too starkly that he can't hide a terrible mistake in his past.

Run, by Ann Patchett (Harper, Sept.). A man and his two adopted sons step out of a lecture hall into the Boston night and meet with a transforming act of violence.

Songs Without Words, by Ann Packer (Knopf, Sept.). Liz and Sarabeth's friendship is close until tragedy strikes and threatens to end all understanding.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, by Gail Tsukiyama (St. Martin's, Sept.). Two orphan brothers in Japan survive war and forge their separate ways in a fractured country.

Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson (FSG, Sept.). The story of three young Americans who drift into the Vietnam war and out onto the ragged edge of sanity.

Trespass, by Valerie Martin (Doubleday, Sept.). When her son brings home a Croatian girlfriend, Chloe's life takes a wrenching turn into suspicion and downright fear.

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy. A highly anticipated new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Knopf, Oct.); and a translation of Tolstoy's original version by Andrew Bromfield (Ecco, Sept.).


Mysteries & Thrillers

Blonde Faith, by Walter Mosley (LB, Oct.). No. 10 in Mosley's Easy Rawlins series, like a few others, involves love, murder and a woman with a dubious past.

Kennedy's Brain, by Henning Mankell (New Press, Sept.). In his latest opus, the Swedish master of the mysterious art takes his inspiration from the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Lady Killer, by Lisa Scottoline (Harper, Feb.). Here comes Scottoline's 15th murderer, but that's all her publisher will say.

The Reserve, by Russell Banks (Harper, Feb.). An unexpected entry in the suspense sweepstakes, this tale of money and ambition set in the late 1930s is by the celebrated author of Cloudsplitter and The Darling.

Stone Cold, by David Baldacci (Grand Central, Nov.). Oliver Stone and his Camel Club are up against a wily new opponent: a cold killer passing himself off as a family man.

T Is for Trespass, by Sue Grafton (Putnam, Dec.). A murderous sociopath steals the identity of a mild-mannered caregiver, and Kinsey Millhone fights time to save lives.


Poetry

Gulf Music, by Robert Pinsky (FSG, Oct.). By Book World's very own columnist, his first book of poetry since Jersey Rain.

Time and Materials, by Robert Hass (Ecco, Oct.). Not since Sun Under Wood (1996) have we seen his latest poetry, but Hass is always worth the wait.

To a Nightingale: Sonnets and Poems from Sappho to Borges, edited by Edward Hirsch (Braziller, Sept.). Thirty master poets join in this paean to the sweet-throated bird.

Windcatcher, by Breyten Breytenbach (Harcourt, Nov.). Verses from his exile in New York join his verses from a South African prison, making this the most complete volume by the great Afrikaner poet.

The Book World Podcast

The Fall Preview, our list of the most highly anticipated books of the season.

Also, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edward P. Jones, editor of the collection, "New Stories From the South;" and Robert Draper, author of "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush." Marie Arana, editor of Book World, is the host. She is joined by Ron Charles, Book World's fiction editor.

Discussion

Washington Post Book World editor Marie Arana fields questions and comments about this fall's new titles, authors and all things literary.

 
PRINT EDITOR: Marie Arana - The Washington Post; WEB EDITOR: Christian Pelusi - washingtonpost.com
 
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