Culture | The five best-selling hardcover novels as measured by placement on four leading lists as of Feb. 8

Issue: "The McCain craze," Feb. 19, 2000
Scoring system: 10 points for first place, 9 for second, down to 1 for tenth, on the lists of the American Booksellers Association (independent, sometimes highbrow stores), the New York Times (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), USA Today (3,000 large inventory bookstores), and (Web purchases)
The Lion's Game
by Nelson Demille
32 points (ABA: 3rd; NYT: 2nd; USA Today: 4th; 2nd)
Plot Search for "the Lion," a Libyan terrorist whose pretended defection to the United States takes a bloody cross-country turn.
Gist Anti-terrorism task force battles a ruthless, revenge-seeking terrorist. In alternating chapters a former NYPD cop smart-mouths his way through danger, excitement, and love, while Asad Khalil plots his attack on the infidels.
Worldview Relativism. Some "good guys" are as bad as the bad guy.
Caution Obscenities, profanities, sexual situations
Sick Puppy
by Carl Hiaasen
28 points (ABA: 1st; NYT: 6th; USA Today: 6th; 3rd)
Plot Young heir of millions from his corrupt developer/ father ruins a plot to make a housing development out of a Florida island.
Gist Sleazy lobbyists and other usual suspects rape the land, kill endangered animals, and litter their way to wealth and influence. Developers are evil and the church is in cahoots with them.
Worldview Soft environmentalism with caricatures of private enterprise and Christianity
Caution Obscenities, profanities, sexual situations
Gap Creek
by Robert Morgan
27 points (ABA: 2nd; NYT: NA; USA Today: 3rd; 1st)
Plot Appalachian couple at the end of the 19th century has a hard but educational first year of marriage.
Gist Hard-working Julie Harmon, a strong female protagonist-this is an Oprah's Book Club selection-is 17 when she meets her future husband. We see Julie's romantic notions of love tested, overturned, and replaced with something much sweeter.
Worldview Biblical. Surprisingly, Christ is shown transforming this marriage.
Caution Sexual situations
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling
20 points (ABA: NA; NYT: 1st; USA Today: 1st; NA)
Plot The adventures of Harry Potter at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Gist Harry lives in a topsy-turvy moral universe, a place where your friend may be your enemy, the person you are talking to might be someone else, and even your pet cannot be trusted.
Worldview Relativism. The line between right and wrong is often blurry (see WORLD cover story, Oct. 30, 1999).
Caution Witchcraft
by Michael Crichton
18 points (ABA: 7th; NYT: 8th; USA Today: 7th; 4th)
Plot Evil genius/billionaire capitalist plans a theme park full of historical artifacts-obtained through time travel, of course. Alas, some of his historians are stuck in 14th-century France and must face all sorts of medieval dangers.
Gist Life during the Middle Ages was no trip to Disneyland.
Worldview Idolatry. It is unwise to disturb the natural order of things.
Caution Obscenities, profanities, and crude descriptions
In the Spotlight
Michael Lewis captured the atmosphere of 1980s Wall Street in his best-selling Liar's Poker. Since then, the center of the economic universe has moved to Silicon Valley. One of the architects of this shift was Jim Clark, the subject of Mr. Lewis' latest book, The New New Thing (Norton, 2000). Mr. Clark is the first technology entrepreneur to start three separate billion-dollar businesses: Silicon Graphics, Netscape, and most recently, Healtheon. While Healtheon was getting off the ground, Mr. Clark allowed Mr. Lewis to come along for the ride. The New New Thing is an American success story and (although the author does not see it this way) an American tragedy. Mr. Clark is a brilliant, restless visionary always looking for the cutting-edge development, but he moves from hands-on leadership (Silicon Graphics) to initial direction only (Netscape) to merely proposing to others that they take advantage of a health industry trend (Healtheon) and use his name to sell stock. Meanwhile, he spends time on his gigantic, fully computerized yacht. Neither money nor success satisfy him, but there's no glimmer of the God-centered alternative. (Caution: contains obscenity and profanity.)

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