Culture | The Top 5 best-selling hardback novels as measured by placement on four leading lists as of Dec. 30

Issue: "Lord of the box office," Jan. 11, 2003
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).
Bush at War
Bob Woodward 36 Points
A look into the inner workings of the Bush administration in the 100 days after Sept. 11, 2001.

Extensive access to many of the players responsible for planning the war lets the author reconstruct behind-the-scenes wrangling, politicking, and passionate arguing. What emerges is the picture of a confident president who knows how to use the tools at his disposal to come up with a plan for defeating the Taliban without getting stuck in a quagmire.

Rudy Giuliani 32 Points
The former mayor gives his prescription for leadership, drawing on his experiences as a prosecutor and mayor, especially during the 9/11 crisis.

Giuliani began this book in 2000, but its most compelling examples come from 9/11 and thereafter. In chapters on different aspects of leadership, he shows how loyalty, attention to detail, planning, and other qualities or habits allowed his administration to respond quickly and well to the great tragedy.

Portrait of a Killer
Patricia Cornwell 22 Points
Forensic-specialist-turned-bestselling-novelist Cornwell proposes that post-Impressionist painter Walter Sickert was the infamous Jack the Ripper.

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Cornwell says analysis of handwriting samples, DNA studies, and so forth prove her point. Her critics say Cornwell jumps to conclusions and disregards evidence that doesn't point to her favored suspect. Who really cares? Caution: Lurid Details.

A Long Way From Home
Tom Brokaw 17 Points
Reminiscences from Brokaw's South Dakota childhood.

Brokaw is not a great storyteller, partly because children aren't great observers, and partly because his east-coast anchorman persona can't resist commenting on women's roles, treatment of Native Americans, and dam construction. He does convey a time and place where children didn't worry about adult matters and could concentrate on school, sports, Scouts, hunting, and fishing.

The Power of Now
Eckart Tolle 17 Points
Another New Age tract showing the way to enlightenment.

"The way, the truth, and the light is within us." Tolle warns that thinking is an enemy to enlightenment: "We will be destroyed by our mind, which has become a monster." The illogic of this book is illustrated in a statement by Tolle's publisher that the author's "teaching embraces the heart, the essence of all other traditions, and contradicts none of them."


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