Best-selling books

Culture | The five best-selling hardback non-fiction books as measured by their rankings on the Publishers Weekly, USA Today, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal lists as of May 3

Issue: "Iraq: What went wrong?," May 15, 2004

1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Lynne Truss


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With wit and style Lynne Truss presses the case for correct punctuation and assures people it's more than OK to be a punctuation stickler.


It's surprising that a book about the correct use of punctuation should shoot to the top of the bestseller lists, especially in a day of slap-dash e-mails. Truss fills the book with amusing examples of poor punctuation and meanings changed by carelessly omitted marks.

Caution: She uses British rules for punctuating quotations, and they differ from American.

2. Plan of Attack

Bob Woodward


Insider account of the Bush administration's planning and motivation for the war in Iraq.


President Bush's critics call him a liar, but Woodward portrays a president who wants to get the facts right and is assured by CIA director Tenet that evidence of WMDs is a "slam dunk." Woodward shows an administration prepared from the beginning to confront foreign threats. Bush comes across as an involved, steady leader, unafraid of policy disagreements within his team.

3. Against All Enemies

Richard Clarke


A much-disputed account of the Bush administration's attitude and actions toward al-Queda prior to 9/11.


Clarke's anger over the war in Iraq motivated him to write this exposé, published in time for his appearance before the 9/11 commission. In trying to absolve the Clinton administration of fault in fighting terrorism, he makes President Clinton seem weak. Clarke claims that Clinton wanted to fight, but the military wouldn't listen, and that when Clinton wanted to retaliate, nasty right-wingers charged "wag the dog."

4. The Purpose Driven Life

Rick Warren


Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Southern California, takes his useful and well-known advice to churches and targets it to individuals.


In 40 short chapters, meant to be read one a day, Warren guides readers to discover how God's five ordained purposes-worship, community, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism-apply to them. His advice is often practical. Readers may disagree with him on this or that, but he encourages all to ask, "What on earth am I here for?"

5. Three Weeks with My Brother

Nicholas Sparks


Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook and Message in a Bottle, writes a cross between a memoir and a travelogue of a three-week around-the-world trip with his brother.


This book works best as a memoir, not a travelogue. But Sparks's detailed memories of his childhood make this book interesting. While his parents worked, the two brothers and their sister were left to fend for themselves, often dangerously. His novels are often sappy but his life has been anything but.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.


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