Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival authors talk about their vacations

Moises Naim. — Photo courtesy of Moses Naim

The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival, on Saturday and Sunday, August 3 and 4, features 30 authors talking about their most recent books at the Harbor View Hotel on Saturday and the Chilmark Community Center on Sunday. For more information, visit

Recently, The Times asked visiting authors to talk about what they would like to do on Martha’s Vineyard during their stay.

“During my stay, I would like to go to The Galley in Menemsha at least three times a week and also drink a lot of iced coffee from Alley’s in West Tisbury.”

— Mark Leibovich, whose “This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus–Plenty of Valet Parking! in America’s Guided Capital” covers the political period from June 2008 to January 2013 in Washington in his humorous and witty way. Mr. Leibovich is chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine based in Washington, D.C.

“I have only visited once, with a friend who took me past beautiful farms and natural food stores. I was so glad to see cows on the Island — such a startling, good sight. I went home on the ferry carting raw milk yogurt very carefully. So I would love to dine at a farm to table restaurant, or go to the farmer’s market, or see a cow again.”

— Indira Ganesan, author of “As Sweet as Honey.”

“Paddleboard from Squibnocket to Menemsha for a slap-up lunch of oysters and lobster at Larsen’s.”

— Niall Ferguson, author of “Civilization: The West and the Rest.”

“My ‘one-thing’ is to return to Lucy Vincent Beach, where friends took us last summer. One of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen.”

— Susan Choi, author of “My Education.”

“My wife and I have never been to Martha’s Vineyard. We’ve certainly been to the Atlantic. Although my wife is a midwesterner, I grew up in New York City, just a few blocks from the ocean. When our son was younger, we took family vacations on the Outer Banks in N.C. So perhaps the best answer might be we would like to see the beach on Martha’s Vineyard and compare it with some other Atlantic experiences.”

— Jonathan Sperber, author of “Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life,” has worked in the department of history at the University of Missouri since 1984, and since 2003 been the Curators’ Professor of History. His biography on Marx was his first work done with a trade publisher and he has been pleased and more than a little astonished at the reception: from the review in The New York Times to his appearance on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.

“I am very much looking forward to this visit to Martha’s Vineyard — not only will I enjoy the company of old friends and the splendid natural surroundings, but I’ve also been given the wonderful opportunity to participate in this celebrated book festival. I’m excited to meet an extraordinary group of authors –— some of whom I have long admired. I feel very fortunate to have been invited.”

— Moises Naim, a senior associate in the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and chief international columnist for El Pais and La Repubblica, will speak about his book “The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used To Be.”

“As anyone who knows me will tell you, asking me to narrow down to one thing I like or hate is frickin impossible. When it comes to the Vineyard, which shares my wife’s name (her name is Martha, not Vineyard), I find it more than frickin impossible to limit my response to one. So here goes. [below is a selection of Mr. Cullen’s top-8 things to do]

1) Take in the sunset at Menemsha, which I did with my wife before and since we married, when Lincoln was president and we had no kids.

2) Sit on me fat arse on South Beach reading Colum McCann’s ‘TransAtlantic’ which I’m only a third of the way through and is already the best book I’ve read this year.

3) Sneak onto Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark and bull… my way through, claiming I know the Murphys, because surely there is someone named Murphy who has a place nearby.”

— Kevin Cullen, a longtime columnist for the Metro section of The Boston Globe, joined forces with Globe reporter Shelley Murphy to write “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.” Meet both authors at the festival.

“I haven’t been to M.V. for more than 30 years. Can’t wait to swim in the surf, explore the Island, meet some of the authors, and find a few good clam shacks.”

— Eric Asimov, wine critic for The New York Times, will speak about his book, “How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto,” which was published last year by William Morrow.

“This will be my first visit to Martha’s Vineyard so mostly I’m looking forward to visiting the Vineyard in general. Certainly, as a scholar of the civil rights movement, M.V. has a significant past, particularly for African American history; friends have recommended seeing the Summer White House (where many notables of the civil rights movement gathered) so getting a sense of that history of the Vineyard is also a priority.”

— Jeanne Theoharis will talk about her book “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” a political biography of Rosa Parks that examines her six decades of activism. Ms. Theoharis is a professor of political science at CUNY Brooklyn.

“Gosh, I’m looking forward to a nap on the beach.”

— Jill Lepore, Kemper Professor of American History at Harvard University, will speak about her books, “Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death,” and “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.”

“I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard, so obviously I’m looking forward to it — and leaning on the advice of friends who have. I’m told the cliffs at Gay Head are wonderful, as is the architecture of Oak Bluffs. Nothing too original, I suspect. Besides that (even less original), I look forward to that good briny smell, getting salt water up my nose, and still feeling the sun on my body as I sit in some small outside restaurant after dark working my way through a large plate of steamers.”

— Mark Slouka will speak about his latest book, “Brewster,” a novel about “an unforgettable friendship between two teenage boys and their hopes for escape from a dead-end town,” writes publisher W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Mr. Slouka is an associate professor of creative writing at Columbia University.

“Among the many things I plan to do is wander Gay Head and think about Tashtego.”

— Sean Wilentz writes about American history, politics, and the arts. His book, “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson and Lincoln,” was awarded the Bancroft Prize. Most recently, he has published “Bob Dylan in America” and “360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story.” A professor at Princeton since 1979, he is currently at work on a study of antislavery politics after the Revolution.

“I grew up in New England and spent many pleasant summer vacations on the Cape, but I’ve never before been to the Vineyard. Other than watching the sunset with a glass of good chilled white wine, I have no clue what I’ll do when I get there.”

— David Wessel is in his 30th year at the The Wall Street Journal, where he is current economics editor and Capital columnist in the Washington bureau. He is the author of two best-sellers: “Red Ink: Inside the High Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget” (2012) and “In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic” (2009).