RICHARD BURTON: A LIFE by Melvyn Bragg (Little, Brown; $22.95). This meticulous biography includes generous quotations from the subject's letters and a 350,000-word private diary; the result is a portrait of a vivid actor who approached language with the same passion he lavished on Elizabeth Taylor.
THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie (Viking; $19.95). Charges of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad have earned a death threat for Rushdie and international headlines for his book, an artfully written encyclopedic fiction about the explosive, often comic, meetings of East and West.
THIS BOY'S LIFE by Tobias Wolff (Atlantic Monthly Press; $18.95). A...