#shortBookReviews Max Perkins, Berg

#shortBookReviews Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, A. Scott Berg

By Jason Criss Howk

3 March 2019

These reviews serve a simple purpose: to tell you what is in the book and why you might want to read it.  All books selected for review are recommended reading…I’m not reviewing books just because they are new, but instead because they are valuable.

Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, A. Scott Berg, New American Library, 2016 (original 1978)

If you are an editor or writer, or have any connection to the publishing sector you need to read this book carefully.

I first got a taste of editing on my middle school newspaper…Go Gophers. Since then I have edited and authored hundreds of papers, articles, OpEds, scholarly works, Intel products, policy white papers, WH executive orders, a journal, and even a book or two. I wish I had read this book sooner.

Max Perkins is hands down the most patient editor I have heard of. A man of character and intellect that chose to never put his personal needs or desires above the writers. He truly believed his job was to find talent, and help authors to express themselves in their own words. He fought the publishers and critics for his writers and let them know he believed in them. Max was of course the editor to some of the most well known literary giants of his age. Hemingway, Rawlings, Wolfe, Boyd, and Fitzgerald all owe their success to his advice, and gentle handling of their particular writing methods and style…and peculiar lives.

My biggest takeaway from the book was his belief that he was only a guide, not a writer. He didn’t want to change the author’s voice. He wanted to share it with the world so it could change literature. That is the lesson I drew from my first publisher Mrs J. Marshall, to let the students write what they felt. An editor isn’t there to make every author sound alike but to ensure varying styles and ideas make it to print.

I have found few editors since, that truly understand their purpose. I was on a group editing team for a journal and saw others struggle with this role. I simply pointed out when an author was confusing, got a fact wrong, or needed to shorten or lengthen a thought. Bottom line if you edit, don’t fight your authors, let their voice and ideas out into the world. You are an assistant to the author, not a filter. If you think editing is about making people write something you agree with, or sound like you, or sound like every other author…you are missing the point.

Max Perkins offers many lessons about an editors role and the publishing world…and how he changed it. Read it slowly and draw in those lessons. Let him challenge your beliefs in an editor’s job. Don’t miss the part when he was being pressured by the US communist party to not publish a work and he stood behind his author against the thugs.

Berg is a talented writer and pulls in dozens of editor-writer episodes to show the full life of Max Perkins.

A great book for young adults too…and if they won’t read it, at least play the movie for them.

#editing #books #publishing #writers #editors #maxPerkins #hemingway #rawlings #fitzgerald #wolfe #boyd #weymouth

#reflection #moralCourage #emotionalBalance #creativity #clarity #decisionMaking #leadership #leaders #inspire #character

#dfp #shortBookReviews

Dispatches from Pinehurst now offers #shortBookReviews for you.  These reviews will be concise and hopefully useful…no author critiquing, no opining on the shortcomings of the book, no literature reviews of similar books on the topic. 

These reviews serve a simple purpose: to tell you what is in the book and why you might want to read it.  All books selected for review are recommended reading…I’m not reviewing books just because they are new, but instead because they are valuable.

Some of these books challenged me and changed my thinking during my life—I hope they can help you.  Some taught me about issues I didn’t understand and others highlighted how great leaders make challenging decisions that shape history. Maybe most importantly, many books give examples of humans that disagree on policy issues (domestic and foreign) but work wisely with their ideological opponents to find solutions.

I hope you enjoy these reviews, and welcome your suggested books for review or your own short book reviews for publication here on DFP.          first.mentor14@gmail.com

Respectfully, Jason

Author of the Award-Winning Book– The Qur’an: A Chronological Modern English Interpretation.

https://oldstonepress.com/library/quran/

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