An instant New York Times bestseller, this “explosive biography” (People) of one of the most beloved and mysterious figures of the twentieth century is “as close as we’ll ever get to being inside J.D. Salinger’s head” (Entertainment Weekly).

This “revealing” (The New York Times) and “engrossing” (The Wall Street Journal) oral biography, “fascinating and unique” (The Washington Post) and “an unmitigated success” (USA TODAY), has redefined our understanding of one of the most mysterious figures of the twentieth century.

In nine years of work on Salinger, and especially in the years since the author’s death, David Shields and Shane Salerno interviewed more than 200 people on five continents, many of whom had previously refused to go on the record about their relationship with Salinger. This oral biography offers direct eyewitness accounts from Salinger’s World War II brothers-in-arms, his family members, his close friends, his lovers, his classmates, his neighbors, his editors, his publishers, his New Yorker colleagues, and people with whom he had relationships that were secret even to his own family. Their intimate recollections are supported by more that 175 photos (many never seen before), diaries, legal records, and private documents that are woven throughout; in addition, appearing here for the first time, are Salinger’s “lost letters”—ranging from the 1940s to 2008, revealing his intimate views on love, literature, fame, religion, war, and death, and providing a raw and revelatory self-portrait.

The result is “unprecedented” (Associated Press), “genuinely valuable” (Time), and “strips away the sheen of [Salinger’s] exceptionalism, trading in his genius for something much more real” (Los Angeles Times). According to the Sunday Times of London, Salinger is “a stupendous work…I predict with the utmost confidence that, after this, the world will not need another Salinger biography.”
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 720 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476744858 | 
  • September 2014
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Salinger (Official Movie Trailer)

SALINGER features interviews with 150 subjects including Salinger's friends and colleagues who have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen.

More Books from this Author

In Body Politic, David Shields looks at contemporary America and its mythology through the lens of professional and college sports. The result is an unusually insightful and provocative book about an empire in denial. Shields relentlessly examines the way we tell our sports stories (both fictional and nonfictional), considers the kinds of athletes we choose as heroes, and delineates the lessons and values we glean from sports. He explores the intricate and telling relationships between players...

About the Authors

David Shields

David Shields is the author of fifteen books, including the New York Times bestseller The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead; Reality Hunger, named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications; and Black Planet, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His work has been translated into twenty languages.


Shane Salerno

Shane Salerno is the director, producer, and writer of Salinger, which premiered theatrically in 2013 from the Weinstein Company and will debut as the 200th episode of American Masters on PBS in early 2014. In addition to Salinger, Salerno has written and produced a number of successful films and TV series. He most recently co-wrote and served as executive producer of the critically acclaimed film Savages, directed by three-time Oscar winner Oliver Stone.