A. Scott Berg

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Biography

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Andrew Scott Berg was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1949 and raised in Los Angeles, where his father worked as a film producer. In high school, he became so interested in the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald that he decided to study English at Fitzgerald’s alma mater, Princeton University. There, his studies about Fitzgerald led him to an obscure yet important figure in modern American literature, Maxwell Perkins, who edited not only Fitzgerald’s works but also works by Thomas Wolfe, Ring Lardner, Ernest Hemingway, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and James Jones. Berg’s senior thesis on Perkins won him an English department award. After graduation, he set about expanding his thesis into a full-length book. Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, published in 1978, was hailed by critics and won the National Book Award for that year.

In 1989, Berg published his second book, entitled Goldwyn: a Biography, about the legendary Hollywood movie producer Samuel Goldwyn. Although the subject was remotely related to his interest in the early days of the studio system that Fitzgerald had worked for, it was not one that he had gone looking for. Goldwyn’s son had approached him and offered the family’s cooperation if Berg would write it, and the offer was too rich in possibility for a biographer to pass up. As with the Perkins book, Berg’s research was meticulous, but for various reasons, ranging from Goldwyn’s personal shallowness to Berg’s lesser degree of commitment, the resultant biography was met with mixed reviews and is considered to be the weakest of Berg’s three books.

Berg’s most recent biography, concerning aviation pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh, was met with immediate success when it was published in 1998, earning Berg the Pulitzer Prize for biography and a spot on the best-seller lists. Like his other books, Berg researched Lindbergh meticulously, reading hundreds of previously unpublished letters to and from his subject and working closely with a Lindbergh family member, in this case Colonel Lindbergh’s widow, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a respected writer. Berg currently lives in California.