12 BEA SHOW DAILY ■ DAY 3
P U B L I S H E R S
W E E K L Y
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2011
life was like for an American family of four living in Germany in 1933, when storm troopers began their vicious attacks and Jews were disenfranchised from their lives.
“What I set out to do was get a sense of what it would have been like in Berlin in that very important but overlooked first year of Hitler’s rule,” Larson says. “I had read William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and was inspired by it. I wondered, had I lived there, would I have guessed what was coming? I tried for as many details as I could to bring it alive, even down to the color of the cars.”
The book focuses on William Dodd, the ambassador to Berlin, and his daughter, Martha, among whose intimates were Thornton Wilder and
Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels. The biggest challenge, Larson says, was making sure that his source material was accurate. “Martha in her memoir is an unreliable narrator. Boris, one of her significant suitors, she never even mentions, though in her papers she does. But then you open a folder from her papers and there is a calling card from Joseph Goebbels, and you realize she really did know these people.” Dodd’s wife, Mattie, by contrast, plays an insignificant role in the book. “There’s just not that much on her,” Larson says. “That’s one of the problems of nonfiction. You have to go with what you’ve got.”
Larson calls this a complete departure from earlier work—Isaac’s Storm and Devil in the White City, among other bestsellers. But they all have the same goal: to create an experience of a time and a place so people will come away with the feeling they’ve actually lived there. He describes himself as “as an animator of history.” Major influences include Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember and Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August. “In both cases I still find myself hoping the Titanic won’t sink and that the war won’t happen.” After speaking at this morning’s Book & Author Breakfast, Larson is signing books at the Random House booth (4420), 10–11 a.m. —Suzanne Mantell
Brenda Warner From Rags to Riches Brenda Warner, the wife of retired NFL star quarterback Kurt Warner, wants people to know there’s much more to her than being a sports celebrity’s wife and living a life of privilege. “I went through so much stuff before Kurt came into my life,” she discloses. “My early life laid the foundation of who I am now.” She’s not kidding: Warner’s memoir, One Call Away: Facing the Unexpected with Resilient Faith (Thomas Nelson, Sept.) reads like a modernday fairy tale.
When Brenda Carney Meoni first met up-and-coming college football player Kurt Warner at a country music bar in Iowa in 1993, she was a 25-year-old single mother of two living on food stamps. Her first husband had left her while she was pregnant with their second child, after he’d blinded and incapacitated their first child by accidentally dropping him on his head. Even after Brenda and Kurt became a couple, there were more trials and tribulations for both to overcome: Kurt was cut from the Green Bay Packers’ training camp in 1994 and had to take a job as a grocery store stock boy working the night shift; Brenda’s parents were killed when a tornado swept through their Arkansas home in 1996.
But fame and fortune followed: a year after their 1997 marriage, Kurt’s career took off when he joined the St. Louis Rams and led them to victory in 1999’s Super Bowl XXXIV. As with every other fairy tale, One Call Away ends with the couple living happily ever after—in Permanence Matters focuses on preserving books for future generations by printing them on paper that lasts. Learn more at Booth 4380.