dan barden
dan barden photo
  I was born and raised in Orange County, California, home of John Wayne and Richard Nixon. I was born in Anaheim three years after the opening of Disneyland. My first memory is of looking across my kindergarten playground at the Materhorn, which I thought was a actual mountain. I did not see real snow until I was seventeen.

As a student in the public schools, I had great difficulty because I didn't see what any of it had to do with me. When I did discover what it had to do with me, I seized upon the two things I did pretty well--reading literature and writing essays about literature--and let them take me to UC Berkeley where I was privileged to get the best education in reading and writing that anyone could hope for. At Berkeley, I wrote poetry and fiction and learned the brave hard art of revision. Under the instruction of great readers and writers like Stephen Booth, Thom Gunn, Leonard Michaels, Robert Pinsky, Tom Farber and Frank Bidart, I learned to be a lovingly obsessed craftsman. For me, the English Department at Berkeley was really a "sweet mother," and I am constantly amazed that I was lucky enough to study there. Actually, I owe that to my parents, who, when I solemnly announced to them at sixteen that college would be wasted on such a poor student as I, said, "If you go to college and all you do is drink beer, but you end up getting a degree, we'll thank God for every penny it cost us." My mother--to whom my novel is dedicated--also bought me my first typewriter, a Smith-Corona which I miss like my first love.

When my father died, a year after I graduated from college, I inherited the responsibility for his construction company, which I ran pretty well for a few years until it could be dissolved. I thought about going into the business of real estate development, after my Dad, but when a friend asked me why I wanted to do that and I cautiously replied, "To make a lot of money?" he told me in no uncertain terms that this was a stupid answer. Sometime after that conversation, I returned to my first love--revision--and that was a journey that made me, at various times and in various capacities, a movie reviewer, a script reader, a grad student, a college instructor, a screenwriter, a journalist, and a novelist.

The journey of this book--John Wayne: A Novel--began in a subway car in New York City when a friend of mine--another novelist--became sick and tired of hearing me obsessively ramble on about John Wayne, John Ford, the Western, Hollywood, and my family's connection to all of the above. He said to me, in a moment of high exasperation, "You know, you should really stop talking about this and you should write about it. I mean, really."
gary indiana
photo of gary indiana
  I was born at the end of the Truman Administration in Manchester, New Hampshire. I grew up at a time when no one locked the door at anight and people left their car keys in the ignition--an era of security that felt completely menacing because of the Russian nuclear threat. By the time I went to college, America had become a much more dangerous, violent place. I lived the '60s like much of my generation, taking lots of LSD, fucking anything that moved, and studying Marx. In the 70s I dissipated in Los Angeles and then started a theater company in New York. I became a writer for the same reason Joan of Arc took up arms against the English: I hear voices. I was brought up Catholic on my mother's side and atheist on my father's side. I'm a little bit of both. I travel whenever I can to the most obscure and exotic places still on view in a world that's becoming, by and large, a replica of the Beverly Center Mall.  
joseph kanon
photo of joe kanon
  Joe Kanon began his career in publishing while an undergraduate at Harvard, reading manuscripts for The Atlantic Monthly. After a series of editorial and managerial positions in book publishing, he eventually became President and CEO of E.P. Dutton, then Executive Vice President of Houghton Mifflin's Trade and Reference Division. Los Alamos is his first novel. He lives in New York City with his wife and their two sons.  
laurence bergreen
photo of laurence bergreen
  Laurence Bergreen is an internationally recognized, prize-winning biographer. Previous subjects have included Irving Berlin, James Agee, and Al Capone. He fell in love with jazz when he first heard Louis Armstrong's "Muskrat Ramble" as a young kid. Although he doesn't play a musical instrument, he listens to at least twelve hours of jazz each day. Bergreen claims to love Armstrong more after writing his biography than when he started, a phenomenon he says is extremely rare for a biographer. The only part of his research he found difficult to stomach was Armstrong's lifelong love of laxatives. He lives with his family in New York City.  
janet wallach
photo of janet wallach
  Janet Wallach is a journalist and biographer who has written several books and numerous articles abou the Middle East. Ms. Wallach ahs been a frequent contributor to The Washington Post Magazine and other periodicals. She has written cover stories on Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, former Egyptian First Lady Jehan Sadat, Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi, Palestinian envoy to Washinton Hassan Rahman, the young Shah of ZIran reza Pahlavi II, and the Iraqi ambassador to the Untied Nations Nizar Hamdoon.  
jim cullen
photo of jim cullen
  Jim Cullen wrote Born in the U.S.A. as a kind of love song to Bruce Springsteen, whose music he began listening to as a high school student on Long Island in the early 1980s. A graduate of Tufts University with a doctorate in American Civilization from Brown University, he currently teaches at Harvard (he commutes to Cambridge a few days a week from Bronxville, NY where he lives with his wife and young son). Cullen is also the author of The Civil War in Popular Culture: A Reusable Past (1995) and The Art of Democracy: A Concise History of Popular Culture in the United States (1996).  
michael azzerad
photo of michael azzerad
  Michael Azzerad's writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Musician, Details, Billboard, the New York Observer, and Guitar World. He was a major contributor to Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the Eighties (St. Martin's 1991) and wrote the essay for Screaming Life (HarperCollins 1995), a collection of work by legendary Seattle rock photographer Charles Peterson. He is currently the music editor of the award-winning SonicNet which is routinely described as the leading alternative music site on the World Wide Web.  
edvard radzinsky
photo of edvard radzinsky
  Edvard Radzinsky is, after Chekhov, Russia's most frequently staged playwright, and his plays have won him international acclaim. A trained historian, Radzinsky labored for twenty-five years to produce the international bestseller The Last Tsar. He is also known in Russia as a popular television personality.  
jesse cohen
  Jesse Cohen edits literary fiction and serious nonfiction for Doubleday's Nan A. Talese imprint. He's looking forward to publishing Edvard Radzinsky's next book, a biography of Rasputin, sometime in 1999.  
william manchester
  William Manchester is professor of history emeritus at Wesleyan University. His books, which have been translated into eighteen languages, include The Death of a President, American Caesar: Douglas McArthur, A World Lit Only By Fire, and two volumes of The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill. He is currently at work on the third volume of The Last Lion.  
    Photo Credits: Joseph Kanon: Marion Ettlinger; Laurence Bergreen: Jerry Bauer; Janet Wallach: Jerry Bauer; Michael Azzerad: Mark Seliger; Edvard Radzinsky: Barbara Zitwer.