The Monitor's Guide to The Bestsellers

By

1. JOHN ADAMS, by David McCullough, Simon & Schuster, $35

Former US President John Adams always maintained a diary and wrote letters avidly throughout his life. Most notable, of course, were the letters to and from his wife Abigail. Their voluminous correspondence takes up some five miles of microfilm. The trick for McCullough was to analyze this massive amount of material and blend it into a coherent, readable volume. He does this beautifully. Research and analysis are interwoven seamlessly, making it an absolute joy to read. (Full review May 31) (751 pp.) By Terry Hartle

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: favorable

Recommended: 4 audiobooks that focus on love

Kirkus Review of Books: favorable

Selected reviews (): favorable

Audio available

2. GERMS, by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William Broad, Simon & Schuster, $27

Three New York Times reporters have written an excellent and tragically timely book on biological weapons. They cover events such as the bioterrorist attack by a religious cult in Oregon in 1984, Saddam Hussein's largely successful efforts to acquire biological weaponry, and the 1990 debates over vaccinating US soldiers against anthrax. The book combines crisp writing, pathbreaking reporting, and thoughtful policy analysis to provide one of the best overviews on the subject to date. (Full review Sept. 27) (352 pp.) By Michael O'Hanlon

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: favorable

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (San Francisco Chronicle): favorable

Audio available

3. The No Spin Zone, by Bill O'Reilly, Broadway Books, $24.95

O'Reilly disdains "spin" (the rehearsed talking points spouted by many of today's politicians). Each chapter in his book recaps an appearance (a confrontation, really) by a newsmaker on O'Reilly's top-rated "spin free" cable news program. The background to the interviews can be interesting, as well as how he moves guests out of their comfort zones and off their practiced messages. His style is refreshingly unaffected, to the point of feeling lightweight, which underplays his contribution to modern politics. (190 pp.) By David S. Hauck

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: No review noted

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (Newsday): favorable

Audio available

4. Islam: A Short History, by Karen Armstrong, Modern Library, $29.95

This concise but very detailed history of Islam traces its 1,400-year journey from a small, persecuted desert community to the world's most sophisticated power, to a global faith in tumult. Along the way, Armstrong illumines a many-faceted religious community that revitalized itself several times in the wake of devastating change. Challenging simplistic notions and fears held in the West, this portrait corrects misconceptions and gives valuable context for understanding today's complex landscape. (222 pp.) By Jane Lampman

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: mixed

Kirkus Review of Books: unfavorable

Selected reviews (New Straits Times): favorable

5. FIRE, by Sebastian Junger, Norton, $24.95

"Life in modern society is designed to eliminate as many unforeseen events as possible," writes Junger in one of the essays in "Fire." "As inviting as that seems, it leaves us hopelessly underutilized." Fascinated by danger, Junger covers firefighters in Idaho, the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, and the horrors of Kosovo. He also profiles Ahmad Shah Massoud, the recently assassinated Afghan rebel leader. The collection is somewhat dated and uneven, but is helped by Junger's eye for detail. (256 pp.) By Amanda Paulson

The Christian Science Monitor: mixed

The New York Times: unfavorable

Kirkus Review of Books: favorable

Selected reviews (Chicago Sun Times): mixed

Audio available

6. JACK: STRAIGHT FROM THE GUT, by Jack Welch, Warner Books, $29.95

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, gives a down-to-earth account of his success in the company he called "home" for more than 40 years. From Welch's modest upbringing to the pinnacle of his ambitious career, he balances the success with a number of challenges faced along the way. His gumption and leadership are illustrated with zest. His passion for unlocking the incredible talent of those around him - and unwavering commitment to the growth of people - is a valuable lesson for all leaders (496 pp.) By Max Martina

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: unfavorable

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (Miami Herald): unfavorable

Audio available

7. HOW I PLAY GOLF, by Tiger Woods, Warner Books, $34.95

This book reads like a series of Golf Digest articles. It's clearly designed to teach, inspire, and entertain Woods's ever-growing golf audience. Chapters on technique are packed with color photos and illustrations, witty sidebars, and a few Tiger "secrets." He stresses fundamentals (proper grip and stance, for example). Perhaps most useful is his perspective on fitness, mental toughness, fun, and perseverance, reminding us that he didn't become the best golfer in the world purely on natural talent. (320 pp.) By Don Springer

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: No review noted

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (Canadian Press): favorable

Audio available

8. WILD BLUE, by Stephen Ambrose, Simon & Schuster, $26

Few authors have done more than Ambrose to help us understand the personal sacrifice and courage that won WWII. His latest chronicles the lives of bomber pilots who flew bulky B-24 "Liberators." The storyline comes alive with Ambrose's focus on lanky young George McGovern, later a US senator and presidential candidate. Ambrose makes us ponder how future generations will discover the depths of courage and team effort these young men gained through the agony of war. (Full review Aug. 9) (480 pp.) By Keith Henderson

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: favorable

Kirkus Review of Books: favorable

Selected reviews (Tampa Tribune): favorable

Audio available

9. WAR IN A TIME OF PEACE, by David Halberstam, Scribner, $28

Halberstam examines American foreign and military policy of the 1990s, emphasizing the experience and personalities of key players in a post-Vietnam era. Everywhere he looks, he finds "ghosts of Vietnam": among those in the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations, and among the American public and media. The end of the Clinton years was not the end of Vietnam-tinged struggles. It may take yet another Halberstam to chronicle the full exorcism. (Full review Sept. 13. Interview this issue) (543 pp.) By Brad Knickerbocker

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: favorable

Kirkus Review of Books: favorable

Selected reviews (Boston Globe): favorable

Audio available

10. THE PRAYER OF JABEZ, by Bruce H. Wilkinson, Multnomah, $9.99

Bruce Wilkinson is convinced that the prayer of a man named Jabez could change your life - if you're a Christian, that is. Found in I Chronicles, the prayer of Jabez is brief. Wilkinson believes that when this prayer is used daily, it opens the doors to God's blessings. Although it glimmers with moments of inspiration and even aspiration for a better life, by packaging those ideas as a strictly Christian ministry, Wilkinson will leave many seekers of faith on the sidewalk of the road he claims to have found. (96 pp.) By Christy Ellington

The Christian Science Monitor: mixed

The New York Times: mixed

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (Buffalo News): unfavorable

Audio available

11. THE FINAL DAYS, by Barbara Olson, Regnery, $27.95

A boon for long-time Clinton critics, this book shines a spotlight on both Clintons as their White House era ends. From pardons to the hocking of White House furniture, Olson drills us with facts, claims, quotes, and anecdotes. The author's death aboard a plane that hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11 may color readers' reactions, tempering the sarcasm that permeates this book. Well-supported facts and carefully chosen quotes build a case against the Clintons that is difficult to ignore, although clearly polemical. (258 pp.) By Tonya Miller

The Christian Science Monitor: mixed

The New York Times: No review noted

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (Dallas Morning News): favorable

12. THE MAP THAT SAVED THE WORLD, by Simon Winchester, HarperCollins, $26

We take for granted the ability to determine that pre-human fossils in Ethiopia are 5.5 million years old, but that skill was hard won. William Smith's biographer says that creating the science of stratigraphy was "a lonely and potentially soul-destroying process" for Smith. The result was the first geological map of an entire nation and a new scientific field. This biography is of a man and a great map, which hit the elite of Smith's day with the mind-altering force of a revelation. (Full review Aug. 8) (352 pp.) By Robert C. Cowen

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: mixed

Kirkus Review of Books: favorable

Selected reviews (Los Angeles Times): favorable

Audio available

13. WHO MOVED MY CHEESE, by Spencer Johnson, Putnam, $19.95

Using a children's book style, Johnson tells the story of two mice, two mini-men, and their never-ending search for cheese. The cheese represents the things people want out of life, and the characters portray all the patterns we fall into as we search for our cheese. The format makes the book's "keep life moving by overcoming fear" philosophy easy to remember. This quick read of simple ideas will provide at least one character to relate to and some advice to hold onto during a busy day.

(94 pp.) By Christy Ellington

The Christian Science Monitor: mixed

The New York Times: No review noted

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (USA Today): mixed

Audio available

14. SAVAGE BEAUTY, by Nancy Milford, Random House, $29.95

An engaging biography about the cult of personality and the complex relationships surrounding Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose work is now largely relegated to high-school poetry classes. Millay, who was shaped by Victorian New England, became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. She once packed auditoriums; sadly, her charmed life spiraled into despair and addiction. Milford gained access to uncataloged manuscripts and correspondence to produce this portrait of a distinctive American voice. (550 pp.) By Leigh Montgomery

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: favorable

Kirkus Review of Books: favorable

Selected reviews (Globe and Mail): favorable

15. BACK TO THE TABLE, by Art Smith, Hyperion, $29.95

The idea of food as love, and cooking as an extension of the heart, might seem old-fashioned. But these days, it's timely. From New York, where celebrity chefs have been shuttling meals to rescue workers, to American homes, where families are making more time for one another, people are proving what Smith conveys in "Back to the Table." The man who rose from humble farming roots to become Oprah's personal chef is clearly onto something big. A perfect book to share around the Thanksgiving table. (288 pp.) By Jennifer Wolcott

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable

The New York Times: favorable

Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted

Selected reviews (Denver Post): mixed

*Washington Post; San Francisco Chronicle; Newsday; New Straits Times; Chicago Sun Times; Miami Herald; Canadian Press; Tampa Tribune; Boston Globe; Buffalo News; Dallas Morning News; Los Angeles Times; USA Today; Globe and Mail; Denver Post

The Book Sense(TM) bestseller list is based on sales from

independent bookstores across America. 1-888-BOOKSENSE

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...