Fall Books Preview
BY Marie Arana  |  AUGUST 31, 2008

There is special pleasure in pawing through books before they publish and imagining the insights they'll bring. Consider the years of work and accumulated wisdom that have gone into producing the 116 that follow. Here is a treasure trove of knowledge, from a chronicle of the White House war room to the artistry of Marc Chagall. Here, too, is a world of the imagination, from the slave trade as conjured by Toni Morrison to the nervous '50s with Philip Roth. This is but a mere fragment, a scattered sampling of what's in store for our readers as we head into the busiest season of the year.

America in an Age of Terror
  • America and the World, by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, with David Ignatius (Basic, Sept.) Two former national security advisers -- a Democrat and a Republican -- coach our next president about global affairs.
  • Big Boy Rules, by Steve Fainaru (Da Capo, Nov.) A Washington Post reporter follows some of the 100,000 mercenaries in Iraq who do what the military can't or won't.
  • The Devil We Know, by Robert Baer (Crown, Sept.) Iran is on the verge of becoming as powerful as Russia or China, according to this former CIA operative.
  • The Forever War , by Dexter Filkins (Knopf, Sept.) A war correspondent's observations from a decade of reporting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Freedom's Battle, by Gary J. Bass (Knopf, Aug.) A history of humanitarian interventions from the 1800s to the present.
  • The Shadow Factory, by James Bamford (Doubleday, Oct.). How the National Security Agency transformed itself from protector to eavesdropper in the wake of 9/11.
  • Tell Me How This Ends, by Linda Robinson (PublicAffairs, Sept.). An inside account of Gen. David Petraeus's attempt to turn around the war in Iraq.
  • The War Within, by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, Sept.). Revelations about the inside machinations of the White House, Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies at critical points in the Iraq War.
  • A World of Trouble, by Patrick Tyler (Farrar Straus Giroux, Dec.). Fifty years of topsy-turvy relations between the White House and the Middle East.

The Way We Live Now
  • Alphabet Juice, by Roy Blount Jr. (FSG, Oct.). A lifelong wordsmith has a little fun with vocabulary.
  • Buyology, by Martin Lindstrom (Doubleday, Oct.) Based on a recent neuro-marketing study, the science of brand recognition and desire.
  • The Comeback, by Emma Gilbey Keller (Bloomsbury, Sept.). Seven women who sacrificed career for family . . . and then returned to the workforce.
  • Desire, by Susan Cheever (S&S, Oct.). The author of "Home Before Dark" looks at sexual addiction.
  • Food Matters, by Mark Bittman (S&S, Dec.). A plan for responsible consumption, by the host of "How to Cook Everything."
  • The Lost Art of Walking, by Geoff Nicholson (Riverhead, Nov.). The history and science of placing one foot in front of the other.
  • Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, Nov.). What makes some people such high achievers? And what makes others fail?
  • Raising Steaks, by Betty Fussell (Harcourt, Oct.) A celebration of carnivorousness.

In Faraway Places
  • The Ancient Shore, by Shirley Hazzard and Francis Steegmuller (Univ. of Chicago, Nov.). The author of The Great Fire and her late husband give us a love letter to Naples.
  • Blood River, by Tim Butcher (Grove, Oct.). A 44-day journey along the Congo retraces explorer H.M. Stanley's legendary 1874 expedition.
  • Factory Girls, by Leslie T. Chang (Spiegel & Grau, Oct.). The vast population of women who work countless hours in substandard conditions to give us material goods.
  • Inside the Stalin Archives, by Jonathan Brent (Atlas & Co., Nov.). Why hasn't Russia been able to shuck its tortured past and get beyond Stalin's ways?
  • The Road of Lost Innocence, by Somaly Mam (S&G, Sept.). Sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather at 12, this Cambodian author survived to rescue others.
  • Thames, by Peter Ackroyd (Doubleday, Nov.) A biography of the river.
  • The Writer as Migrant, by Ha Jin (Univ. of Chicago, Nov.). What Anita Desai, Vladimir Nabokov, V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie have in common.

Eminent Lives
  • American Lion, by Jon Meacham (Random House, Nov.). From the author of American Gospel, a chronicle of Andrew Jackson, the president who brought us to the cusp of global power.
  • Emily Post, by Laura Claridge (RH, Oct.). The woman whose name became a synonym for good manners.
  • The Genius, by David Harris (RH, Sept.). How Bill Walsh changed football by treating players like professionals.
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins, by Paul Mariani (Viking, Oct.) The Jesuit priest who transformed loneliness and despair into poetry of lasting beauty.
  • Giants, by John Stauffer (Twelve, Nov.). Two self-made men -- Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln -- who redefined our concepts of liberty.
  • In Search of Bill Clinton, by John Gartner (St. Martin's, Sept.). A biography of one of our most enigmatic presidents, by a professional psychologist.
  • Michelle Obama, by Liza Mundy (S&S, Oct.). Lawyer, mother . . . and wife of a presidential candidate.
  • Mrs. Astor Regrets, by Meryl Gordon (Houghton Mifflin, Dec.). As the Astor family implodes all too publicly, this book comes along to tell us why.
  • Mrs. Woolf and the Servants, by Alison Light (Bloomsbury, Sept.). She had a room of her own as well as a staff to tend it.
  • A Passion for Nature, by Donald Worster (Oxford, Oct.). John Muir, America's greatest conservationist.
  • Polanski, by Christopher Sandford (Palgrave Macmillan, Sept.). Despite a lifetime of tragedy and scandal, this film director managed to make art.
  • Samuel Johnson, by Peter Martin (Harvard Univ., Sept.), and Samuel Johnson, by Jeffrey Meyers (Basic, Dec.). In time for the tricentenary of his birth, two accounts of a larger-than-life scholar and writer.
  • The Snowball, by Alice Schroeder (Bantam, Sept.) The life and times of business guru Warren Buffett.

As I Saw It
  • Blue Genes, by Christopher Lukas (Doubleday, Sept.) The brother of Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Lukas describes their family's history of suicide.
  • Call Me Ted, by Ted Turner with Bill Burke (Grand Central, Nov.). From billboard salesman to millionaire philanthropist, he tells us what makes him tick.
  • Crazy Loco Love, by Victor Villaseñor (Arte Publico, Sept.). A coming-of-age chronicle of faith, sex and identity, by the well-known Chicano novelist.
  • An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, by Elizabeth McCracken (LB, Sept.). How does a mother deal with a stillbirth? By the author of The Giant's House.
  • Hurry Down Sunshine, by Michael Greenberg (Other, Sept.). The unforgettable summer when he lost his 15-year-old daughter to madness.
  • A Journal for Jordan, by Dana Canedy (Crown, Dec.) A journalist's story of her soldier fiancé, who never made it home from Iraq.
  • Letter to My Daughter, by Maya Angelou (RH, Sept.) A collection of essays about the well-lived life, from the author of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
  • Résistance, by Agnès Humbert (Bloomsbury, Sept.) A chronicle of her work in occupied France and her subsequent deportation to a labor camp in Germany.
  • Roads to Quoz, by William Least Heat-Moon (LB, Oct.) The author of Blue Highways sets out again on America's back roads.
  • Scattershot, by David Lovelace (Dutton, Sept.). Four out of five members of this poet's family have lived with bipolar disorder.
  • Some of It Was Fun, by Nicholas deB. Katzenbach (Norton, Oct.). A deputy attorney general to Bobby Kennedy and attorney general to Lyndon Johnson, Katzenbach gives us a ringside seat to turbulent times.
  • Things I've Been Silent About, by Azar Nafisi (RH, Dec.). The author of Reading Lolita in Iran offers the story of her childhood and family.
  • Too Close to the Sun, by Curtis Roosevelt (PublicAffairs, Oct.). The eldest grandson of Franklin and Eleanor recalls life in the public glare of the White House.

History's Lessons
  • Champlain's Dream, by David Hackett Fischer (S&S, Oct.). The founder of Quebec and his vision for a tolerant nation, by the author of Washington's Crossing.
  • Crossing the Continent, by Robert Goodwin (Harper, Oct.). The 16th-century African slave Esteban, who led the Spanish from Florida to California.
  • The Hemingses of Monticello, by Annette Gordon-Reed (Norton, Sept.). A sweeping history of the black slave relatives of Thomas Jefferson.
  • The Irish Americans, by Jay P. Dolan (Bloomsbury, Oct.) From the bleak years of the potato famine to the inauguration of the first Irish-American president.
  • Now the Drum of War, by Robert Roper (Walker, Oct.) The little-known story of Walt Whitman's brothers, who fought in some major battles of the Civil War.
  • Sweet Land of Liberty, by Thomas J. Sugrue (RH, Nov.) The Civil Rights struggle was fought in the North by many unsung heroes. This is their story.
  • Traitor to His Class, by H.W. Brands (Doubleday, Nov.) Born to a rich family, Franklin Delano Roosevelt became America's greatest defender of the poor.
  • Waking Giant, by David S. Reynolds (Harper, Oct.). The author of Walt Whitman's America gives us a portrait of the country's transformation during the age of Jackson.
  • The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell (Riverhead, Oct.) Quirky observations on America's Puritan roots.

Artistic Pursuits
  • Breakdowns, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon, Oct.). The creator of Maus looks back at the mad, MAD '60s.
  • Chagall, by Jackie Wullschlager (Knopf, Oct.). Born dirt poor in late 19th-century Russia, he became one of the great artists of the modern age.
  • John Lennon, by Philip Norman (Ecco, Oct.). The legendary musician began life as a psychologically scarred child, under the roof of his Aunt Mimi.
  • Le Corbusier, By Nicholas Fox Weber (Knopf, Nov.) One of the most admired and reviled architects of the 20th century worked for Mussolini and the USSR, too.
  • Loot, by Sharon Waxman (Times, Oct.). Who should own the great works of ancient art? And why were they stolen in the first place?
  • Mona Lisa in Camelot, by Margaret Leslie Davis (Da Capo, Nov.). How Jacqueline Kennedy helped bring Da Vinci's masterpiece to America.
  • Reagan, by Marc Eliot (Harmony, Sept.). Focusing on the actor's Hollywood years, an insight into the leader.
  • Spellbound by Beauty, by Donald Spoto (Harmony, Oct.) Alfred Hitchcock's complicated and often scandalous relations with his leading ladies.

The Scientific Mind
  • The Alchemy of Air, by Thomas Hager (Harmony, Sept.). How a scientist and a tycoon teamed up to wrest nitrogen from the air to feed the planet.
  • Descartes' Bones, by Russell Shorto (Doubleday, Oct. The debate between religion and science as seen through the 350-year journey of René Descartes's skull and bones.
  • Frontier Medicine, by David Dary (Knopf, Nov.). American medical discoveries from 1492 to World War II.
  • Fruitless Fall, by Rowan Jacobsen (Bloomsbury, Sept.). The gradual disappearance of the honeybee may augur an agricultural crisis.
The General Landscape
  • 2666, by Roberto Bolaño (FSG, Nov.). The great Chilean author's last novel is set on the U.S.-Mexico border, where a series of mysterious murders has taken place.
  • American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld (RH, Sept.). A sweet, bookish girl grows up to become a librarian -- and the first lady of the United States.
  • Anathem, by Neal Stephenson (Morrow, Sept.). The author of Cryptonomicon returns with a story about a monk battling a looming catastrophe.
  • And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs (Grove, Nov.) An autobiographical, posthumous work by two writers whose pal committed murder.
  • Conspirata, by Robert Harris (S&S, Nov.). By the author of Imperium, a novel of Cicero and Rome.
  • Crossroads, by Belva Plain (Delacorte, Nov.). In an insular New England town, two married couples learn that there is a domino effect to betrayal.
  • Deaf Sentence, by David Lodge (Viking, Sept.). The professor couldn't quite hear what she said, but suddenly he's involved with a surprisingly frisky young woman.
  • Death With Interruptions, by José Saramago (Harcourt, Oct.) Mankind achieves eternal life -- and learns just how complicated that can be.
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (Europa, Sept.) The all-too-human tenants of a Paris apartment building, as seen through the eyes of the concierge.
  • The Eleventh Man, by Ivan Doig (Harcourt, Oct.). By the author of The Whistling Season, the story of football teammates thrust into the battlefields of World War II.
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (Knopf, Sept.). A punky goth girl from one of Sweden's wealthiest families goes missing, and Uncle Henrik wants to know why.
  • The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane (Morrow, Sept.) The author of Mystic River turns his skills to a historical novel about an American family caught in the closing calamities of World War I.
  • Goldengrove, by Francine Prose (Harper, Sept.). One transformational summer in the life of a grieving 13-year-old girl.
  • The Ghost in Love, by Jonathan Carroll (FSG, Oct.) Ben Gould falls, hits his head on the pavement and should die, but his body lives on -- to hilarious consequences.
  • Guernica, by Dave Boling (Bloomsbury, Sept.). A story of love and family unfolds in Basque country, until the Luftwaffe rains death and destruction from the skies.
  • Home, by Marilynne Robinson (FSG, Sept.). By the author of Gilead, a novel that takes place in the house of Rev. Robert Boughton, the best friend of Gilead's hero.
  • I See You Everywhere, by Julia Glass (Pantheon, Oct.). A portrait of two very different but very close sisters, by the author of Three Junes.
  • Indignation, by Philip Roth (Houghton, Sept.)As the Korean War flares up, the fragility of life becomes all too clear to a draft-age young man and his terrified father.
  • Liberty, by Garrison Keillor (Viking, Sept.). A Lake Wobegon resident with a few skeletons in his closet suddenly decides to run for Congress.
  • Lulu in Marrakech, by Diane Johnson (Dutton, Oct.) He thinks she's there to rekindle their old affair, but she's really on a CIA assignment.
  • A Mercy, by Toni Morrison (Knopf, Nov.). In the 1680s a young slave girl enters an Anglo-Dutch adventurer's household as payment for a bad debt.
  • Midnight, by Sister Souljah (Atria, Nov.). The scion of a wealthy African Muslim family makes a new life on the streets of Brooklyn.
  • Ms. Hempel Chronicles, by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Harcourt, Sept.). Eight interconnected stories about a novice seventh grade teacher.
  • One Fifth Avenue, by Candace Bushnell (Voice, Sept.). More thrills and trials of urban love from the author of Sex and the City.
  • The School on Heart's Content Road, by Carolyn Chute (Grove, Nov.). The author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine offers a novel about a disaffected boy and his life on the American fringe.
  • Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh (FSG, Oct.) In the early 19th century, a mighty ship called the Ibis makes its way across the Indian ocean to fight in China's Opium Wars.
  • The Sealed Letter, by Emma Donoghue (Harcourt, Sept.) Based on a real case, this novel by the author of Slammerkin involves a married woman, a scandalous affair and a trial that rocked Victorian England.
  • Songs for the Missing, by Stewart O'Nan (Viking, Nov.). When a popular high school student in a quiet Midwestern town disappears, the community is changed forever.
  • Testimony, by Anita Shreve (LB, Oct.). Sex, lies and videotapes in a tony New England boarding school.
  • To Siberia, by Per Petterson (Graywolf, Oct.). The Norwegian author of Out Stealing Horses gives us a novel about two siblings in wartime brought closer by a family suicide.
  • The Toss of a Lemon, by Padma Viswanathan (Harcourt, Sept.). A bride at 10, a widow at 18, our Brahmin heroine moves back to her dead husband's village to raise her two children alone.
  • The Widows of Eastwick, by John Updike (Knopf, Oct.). The witches of Eastwick -- widows now -- revisit their wicked deeds in a small Rhode Island town.

Thrillers and Suspense
  • The Black Tower, by Louis Bayard (Morrow, Sept.) Bayard's previous novel The Pale Blue Eye was about Edgar Allan Poe. This one is about the founder of the renowned French Sûreté.
  • The Book of Lies, by Brad Meltzer (Grand Central, Sept.). Cain and Superman cross paths in a novel by the creator of The Book of Fate.
  • The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly (LB, Oct.) Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch join up to defend a Hollywood mogul accused of murdering his wife.
  • Dark Summer, by Iris Johansen (St. Martin's, Oct.) A veterinarian on a remote search-and-rescue mission runs into a nefarious pack of murderers.
  • Exit Music, by Ian Rankin (LB, Sept.). A dissident Russian poet is dead in Edinburgh. Detective John Rebus wants to know why.
  • Night of Thunder, by Stephen Hunter (S&S, Sept.) Bob Lee Swagger chases a malevolent villain through the dizzying swirl of NASCAR.

Short Stories
  • Happy Families, by Carlos Fuentes (RH, Sept.). The author of The Old Gringo offers 16 wildly different family dramas.
  • Just After Sunset, by Stephen King (Scribner, Nov.). Recent tales from the king of horror.
  • Yesterday's Weather, by Anne Enright (Grove, Sept.) Winner of the 2007 Booker Prize for The Gathering, Enright now offers stories about longing and loss.

  • All One Horse, by Breyten Breytenbach (Archipelago, Sept.). Fables and watercolors by the prize-winning South African writer.
  • Ballistics, by Billy Collins (RH, Sept.). His last was his bestselling The Trouble with Poetry.
  • The Truro Bear and Other Adventures, by Mary Oliver (Beacon, Oct.). Poems and essays devoted to the world's creatures.

The Book World Podcast

The staff interviews today's top authors and literary figures every week and publishes every Friday. Download this week's edition now.


Send your questions and participate in a new Q&A every Tuesday.

PRINT EDITOR: Marie Arana; WEB EDITOR: Christian Pelusi - washingtonpost.com
© 2008 The Washington Post Company