QUESTION: What unwritten autobiography, by someone living or dead, would you most like to read, assuming it would be complete and truthful? In no more than two sentences, why?


Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

is Republican candidate for governor. A graduate of Princeton University and Wake Forest School of Law, he has served as a member of Congress representing Maryland's 2nd District for the past eight years.

I would have to say my great-grandfather, Otto Ehrlich, who immigrated to this country from Bavaria in 1914. He was a hardworking man who realized that, through integrity and dedication, opportunity exists for all that seize the moment.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

is Maryland's lieutenant governor. The founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, she is Democratic candidate for governor.

Madeleine Albright has led an extraordinary and inspiring life, accomplishing goals that were once unthinkable for women. Her career on the global stage gave her unique insight and understanding of the motivations of world leaders, which I would find fascinating. I would also be interested to learn how she maneuvered through the State Department bureaucracy while working with both Congress and the White House to accomplish American diplomatic objectives.

Clarinda Harriss

is chair of the Towson University English Department. She has published three collections of poetry and contributed two scholarly works on poetry. Her work appears in many magazines. She edits and directs BrickHouse Books Inc., Maryland's oldest continuously publishing small press.

The "true and accurate" autobiography I'd most like to read, if it existed, is Sappho's. All bio entries about her, including the note in the publicity for Anne Carson's new translation of her poetry (If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho), begin with "little is known." I want to KNOW: how she managed to anticipate by 26 centuries the pop song I heard on my car radio last night -- the one about pitying a lover who can't have the thrill of sitting next to him / herself; how it feels to be right up there with Tieresias and Little Richard in the pantheon of bisexual superstars; how she learned to make great poems out of plain language.

Steve Weinberg

started writing in 1968 about the impact of the public and private sectors for newspapers, magazines and, eventually, book publishers. From 1983 to 1990, he also served as executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors, a membership organization serving journalists across the United States and in many other nations.

Richard Cheney's autobiography. As an investigative reporter, I have been trying to understand for decades precisely how the branches of government and various private corporations influence millions of lives every day in so many ways. Cheney has been ideally positioned inside the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as inside corporate offices. What revelations he could provide about the good, the bad and the downright corrupt.

Michael Beschloss

is the author of seven books about American presidents, including the forthcoming The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941-1945. (Simon and Schuster, November).

Franklin Roosevelt, who did not live to write memoirs. While presiding over one of the most eventful and important presidencies in American history, FDR was so guarded and opaque that he did not leave us definite answers about many of his most vital inner thoughts, from personal subjects like his complicated marriage to Eleanor, to public ones like his discovery of and reaction to what we now know as the Holocaust.

Clare McHugh

is the founding editor of the men's magazine Maxim, and is now an editor at large at Time Inc. She has served as editor-in-chief of New Woman and executive editor of Marie Claire.

The autobiography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, notoriously private about her private life, would make fascinating reading, although it is hard to picture her pushing aside that perfect facade and really dishing about JFK, RFK and Ari.

Peter Jennings

is the anchor for ABC News. He is co-author of In Search of America, just published by Hyperion.

I would love to read the autobiography of the man the New Testament calls Paul of Tarsus. I have just finished a documentary on St. Paul's life and still have many questions. After the incident on the road to Damascus, Paul went from a persecutor of Jews to the man many scholars believe is largely responsible for inventing Christianity. In Paul's letters, he sometimes comes across as a ranting egomaniac. In other places, his writing about love and faith are sublime. So maybe he could help answer the question: Was Christianity invented by an insightful genius -- or a man with a fevered imagination?

Joan Mellen

is author of 15 books, including biography, criticism and fiction. She teaches in the graduate program in creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia. She is completing a biography of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.

None. Memoirs depend on that notorious liar, memory, and are at best impressionistic. Autobiography offers a systematic attempt for the self-serving first person singular to rewrite the historical record. As a biographer, I've found that memoirs and autobiographies both are the least dependable of sources, rarely earning the adjective "primary." It has been irritating, boring and discouraging to compare documents and testimony with their rendition in autobiography, which deserves far less respect than it is currently given in publishing circles. A cheer from this quarter for both history and biography, to disinterest, and to writers with nothing to protect and only the truth to honor.

Roger Straus

founded Farrar Straus and Co. (now Farrar, Straus & Giroux) in 1946 and has served as its president and chief executive officer since then.

I should like to read the autobiography (or memoir) of J.D. Salinger. There are many questions that are unanswered. Was he shot? Does he have, as a number of people suspect, several volumes of journals stashed away? Is he still at work? This is the writer I should want to know more about.

William K. Marimow

is The Sun's editor. He was a reporter, editor and assistant to the publisher at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he won two Pulitzer Prizes for investigative reporting.

I would love to read the unexpurgated autobiography of John F. Kennedy with his insights into both his public policy decisions and his personal life. In my opinion, it would be compelling reading to learn the truth about Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, allegations that he was plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro, and the inside story about what really happened in Cook County, Ill. on the night of the 1960 presidential election as well as his relationships with women like Marilyn Monroe, Judith Campbell Exner and many others.

John E. McIntyre

is The Sun's assistant managing editor for the copy desk. He has read Grant's and Sherman's memoirs and would like to see the missing piece.

Apart from Jesus (owing to an ignoble desire to witness the consternation of the clergy), I relish Abraham Lincoln's autobiography. It would throw light on the intellectual and spiritual development only hinted at in his letters and speeches, it would be expressed in his extraordinarily precise and lucid prose, and it would do away with multitudes of silly books.

Terry Teachout

is the author of The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken, forthcoming in November from HarperCollins.

My Life and Times, by Stephen Sondheim. The gossip value alone would be incalculable -- theater people would pay just to see an advance copy of the index -- but I'd be far more interested in getting an unguarded glimpse of the interior life of the creator of Sweeney Todd, the great American opera.

Katharine Chubbuck

is a lecturer at the Princeton Writing Program and previously was an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. She has published articles in Newsweek and other journals.

Murasaki Shikibu, author of the 11th-century Japanese classic, The Tale of Genji, which chronicles the love affairs of the sumptuous Heian court. I'd love to know from Murasaki's own lips whether she had adventures as decadent as those of her characters; whether she finished writing Genji or left it purposefully incomplete; and finally, what happened at the end of her life, as we don't even know when she died. I should note that Murasaki left a diary, but it covers merely two years.

Helen Molesworth

is curator of contemporary art at the Baltimore Museum of Art and a Marcel Duchamp scholar.

Mary Reynolds. She was an American expatriate who helped in the French Resistance by smuggling papers across the Pyrenees by foot. She was the long-time lover and friend of Marcel Duchamp. Upon her death, all the letters they wrote to each other were destroyed.

Steve Proctor

is the Sun's deputy managing editor for features and sports.

I confess to a weakness for racetracks and boxing rings and, most of all, the characters who inhabit them. Which is why I can not think of a person whose autobiography I would find more entertaining than the writer who brought us Guys and Dolls, Harry the Horse and Little Miss Marker -- the incomparable Damon Runyon.

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