I became aware of Thomas Berger in my very first job in the book world, in the marketing department at Dell Books, when Berger’s Arthur Rex was published back in 1978. Though I knew him only through his writing, to me he was a mythic figure much like King Arthur in his novel: wise, bitingly witty, and afraid of nothing. Many years have passed since that first acquaintance, and now, upon the occasion of Mr. Berger’s death, all I can say, from my current position as an acquiring editor at Open Road, is that I am wonderfully glad to have had the opportunity to bring his work to thousands of new readers in digital form. We developed a small acquaintance as I shepherded his books through the publishing process, and I was happy to tell him I’d been a longtime fan.
I’d like to quote a passage from his new introduction to the digital edition of Arthur Rex:
“Some years ago I met a genuine Sioux warrior of the present day, a Lakota-born combat infantry officer in the US army,” Mr. Berger wrote, “and was gratified to hear his kind words about Little Big Man. We spoke about the days when the Plains Indians put into the field what has been authoritatively called the greatest light cavalry that ever rode into battle, and he said, ‘You know what occurs to me when I think of those old guys? The Knights of the Round Table.’”
Rest in peace, Thomas Berger.