ADLAI STEVENSON AND THE WORLD: The life of Adlai Stevenson, by John Bartlow Martin (Doubleday, $15). A campaign adivser and friend of Stevenson, Martin was given full access to his papers and to those who knew and worked with him. The resulting biography does not ignore the man's flaws but its dominant tone is nonetheless one of frank admiration; it sees reality, generally, from the viewpoint of Stevenson and his circle, and a revisionist view from the opposition may be expected sooner or later. Still, this study is massively researched and documented, well-written and convincing in its portrayal of one of the key figures of our time.
CONFLICT AND CRISIS: The Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 1945-1948, by Robert J. Donovan (Norton, $12.95). Donovan was a reporter in the Truman years and has since become a historian. In this study of events where he was present (at least on the sidelines), he has the advantage of both disciplines; he combines vivid personal impressions with a scholarly depth and breadth of vision that make this an unusually engrossing book.
THE HERMIT OF PEKING: The Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse, by Hugh Trevor-Roper (Knopf, $10). Trevor-Roper has found biographical gold: a little-known but fascinating Englishman who spent most of his life as a recluse in Peking, published two historical studies of the decline of the Chinese Empire that were accepted as definitive, claimed intimate relations with the Dowager Empress, and built his whole reputation on frauds and forgeries. Scholar, man of affairs, swindler, the life of Backhouse is incredible, though not quite as incredible as he made it in his unpublished (unpublishable?) memoirs.
NABOKOV: His Life in Part, by Andrew Field (Viking, $15). This is not an "authorized" biography, but the author was an acquaintance and admirer of the subject, had access to material unavailable for more academic researchers and tried to reproduce in his pages the special flavor of Nabokov's personality and literary style. When he succeeds, the effect is superb; when he doesn't quite manage, it's interesting. This is too early to be a definitive biography, but it will be a prime source for the one that will come in a future decade.
THE MEMOIRS OF EARL WARREN. By Chief Justice Earl Warren (Doubleday, $12.95). Sometimes informative, sometimes frustrating, this autobiography will be read chiefly for the two chapters (out of 11) which discuss the author's 16 years as Chief Justice.
AMERICAN HUNGER, by Richard Wright (Harper & Row, $8.95). A continuation of the autobiography begun in Black Boy, this poignant, bewildering book covers seven years in the author's maturation as a writer, centering on his experiences in and final disillusion with the Communist Party.
PHILOSOPHER AT LARGE: An Intellectual Autobiography, by Mortimer Adler (Macmillan, $12.95). The life of the leading Aristotelian of our time, as he recalls it and tells it (with wry, self-deprecating wit), is largely the tale of a bright, eager outsider battling against academic inertia and fashionable lines of thought to make philosophy interesting and useful to those who are not professional philosophers.
RING: A Biography of Ring Lardner, by Jonathan Yardley (Random House, $12.95). An objective, even-handed biography that balances and complements the more personal account given last year in The Lardners, by Ring Lardner Jr.