The lives of 30 great American writers are outlined here in clear, informative biographies from the Fabers (Birth of a Nation, 1989, etc.). The foreword describes the method used for choosing the featured writers--no living authors were included, every recipient of the Nobel Prize was--and offers a small apology for coming up with so many dead white males. It would be hard to quibble with most of the choices, which include all the venerables from James Fenimore Cooper to Tennessee Williams, with a couple of token children's book authors thrown in. The bios themselves are short but complete, always engaging and occasionally sparkling. Readers will enjoy the consternation of the Wharton family friends who worried that young Edith was too clever, and knowing that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the rhyme that begins, ""There was a little girl/Who had a little curl/Right in the middle of her forehead."" Although not as witty and unconventional as Kathleen Krull's Lives of the Writers (1994), this is a solid contribution to the Great Lives series.