Culture

Bestsellers

Culture | The five best-selling nonfiction hardbacks as measured by placement on four leading lists as of Feb. 11

Issue: "View from the Axis," March 9, 2002
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), Publishers Weekly (general bookstores), and Amazon.com (Web purchases).
1
Bias
Bernard Goldberg 35 points (ABA: 3rd; NYT: 1st; PW: 2nd; Amazon: 3rd)
CONTENT
The news media are biased toward the left and Bernard Goldberg, longtime CBS news correspondent, is rude enough to blow the whistle.

GIST
There's not a lot new here. Conservatives have complained for years about the liberal tilt of the major networks and newspapers. But Bernard Goldberg writes as an insider and it's funny to see how the network that lionized whistleblowers in other industries tried to shut him up.

2
Self Matters
Phillip C. McGraw 29 points (ABA: 1st; NYT: n/a; PW: 1st; Amazon: 2nd)
CONTENT
Advice for those who feel lost in their life-from the psychologist Oprah has called a "walking, talking, in-your-face reality check."

GIST
McGraw diagnoses a problem-discontentment and unhappiness-and offers the same cure proffered by every self-help doctor: Look within. That's where readers should look for keys to understanding their past bad choices and rotten self-images, and it's where readers will discover their true self, which will lead to personal happiness.

3
Sacred Contracts
Caroline Myss 26 points (ABA: 2nd; NYT: 2nd; PW: 3rd; Amazon: n/a)
CONTENT
A self-help New Age book that belongs on the Times' Advice list, where the Prayer of Jabez and Self Matters are listed, rather than on the regular list.

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GIST
Caroline Myss is a "medical intuitive" who intuits the condition of her clients' bodies and souls and helps them discover their missions in life. Through myths and archetypes she "awakens their divine potential," teaches them to make a contract with the Divine, and "earn grace through prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices."

4
John Adams
David McCullough 19 points (ABA: 4th; NYT: 5th; PW: 6th; Amazon: 10th)
CONTENT
A compelling biography of the second president of the United States.

GIST
McCullough's sympathy for the second president shines through this fascinating book which had an initial printing of 250,000 and has now sold more than 1 million copies. One of Bill Clinton's legacies may be that John Adams, faithful husband and honorable man, is gaining in reputation as historians appreciate the place character plays in public life.

5
Jack
Jack Welch 11 points (ABA: n/a; NYT: 6th; PW: 7th; Amazon: 9th)
CONTENT
A memoir by Jack Welch, the corporate leader who retired recently after 40 years at General Electric.

GIST
Plain-talking Welch interweaves the story of his long GE career with his personal and management philosophies. He portrays himself as an arrogant, sometimes abrasive, figure who bucked the bureaucracy while advancing through it. He credits his mother for instilling in him the self-confidence, drive, and focus needed to succeed and reshape one of America's oldest companies.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Bernard Goldberg's book Bias would be what editors call TEK, this everyone knows-except that many editors don't know it or won't admit it. So much already has been written about liberal press bias that Mr. Goldberg's book does not break new ground, but he is forcing some members of the press to deal with it. The book is loaded with anecdotes showing how liberal journalistic worldviews color news coverage. For example, Mr. Goldberg describes how a female journalist never considered going to a conservative women's group for a reaction to any Supreme Court opinion on "women's issues"; the National Organization for Women simply seemed like the reasonable group to go to for comment. He also lays out evidence of how insular many elite journalists are: They go to church less than other folks, have fewer children, make more money, and don't really know anyone who doesn't share their way of looking at the world. Liberal reporters have written that only conservatives think the press tilts left, and Mr. Goldberg takes pains to state that he is no right-winger. That makes him an even greater turncoat in the eyes of his former colleagues.

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