A collection of correspondence between Robert A. Heinlein and his wife, various publishers, editors, and others.  The writings were published posthumously, (Del Rey, 1989) edited by his widow, Virginia Heinlein.  (Out of print as of 2/2001)

The character of RAH shines through in the letters, and it seems that a realistic glimpse of the man behind the stories is given.  He definitely modeled many of his characters after himself, or portions of himself.  The early letters to his wife during his military days contain many ideas and sentiments that were precursors to themes of later works, and his dedication to precision and science is impressive.  The letters back and forth to editors and publishers give much insight into the actual writing process, and the wrangling and niggling that goes on in transforming a manuscript into a publishable book.  There is an entertaining section about his trials at working adult ideas into his juvenile fiction, such as Podkayne of Mars.  In fact, the discussion of his pursuit of two separate literary tracks, adult science fiction and juvenile science fiction, explains much about why RAH's books seem to aim at such different levels - they actually do.

Perhaps it would be best for RAH fans to not read this book until their passion has peaked and begun to wane a bit.  The deconstructionist nature of the work, the exposure of the man behind the controls, could well disrupt the usual process of 'growing beyond Heinlein' experienced by many fans.  For those still discovering, devouring, and digesting Heinlein novels - continue, but leave this for later.  For those who've gone back and re-read some RAH and found it to be less than you remember, found the strong opinions less appealing - this book might help you understand the author and put the things he wrote, the things you learned, in perspective.  For those whose fandom has festered, or those who found him fascist from the start, there's likely little here for you, unless you're on a crusade.