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Culture Notable Books

Notable Books

Bestselling books

Four hardback bestsellers

Plot: In this 12th Harry Bosch novel, the veteran detective has the opportunity to close an abduction/murder case from 1993, but something's not quite right: A serial killer who confesses so as to receive life imprisonment, rather than a death penalty, may have a deal on the side.

Gist: Psychologically complex hero Bosch, plagued by the thought that an oversight on his part may have led to nine more murders, sees a political conspiracy-but is it really there?

Caution: language, sex, violence.

The Mission Song

Plot: The orphaned son of an Irish priest and a murdered Congolese woman becomes a brilliant multilingual interpreter and marries an English journalist. He then serves the British government as a covert eavesdropper at an African conference planning a coup.

Gist: British officials are actually serving the interest of nasty multinational corporations and a nefarious network of U.S. political/business interests. Le Carré brilliantly depicted the moral complexities of the Cold War era, but now it's all good guys vs. bad American capitalists, conservatives, and militarists.

The Looming Tower

Content: From Egyptian theorist Sayid Qutb to Zawahiri to bin Laden, Lawrence Wright traces the diverse theological and political strands that led to al-Qaeda and 9/11 as well as the flawed American response.

Gist: This compelling history reads like a novel with complex characters vividly drawn from Wright's extensive interviews with al-Qaeda members and associates in the Middle East, and FBI and CIA officials in the United States. Wright emphasizes telling the story rather than assigning blame, so even good guys are portrayed with warts showing.


Content: The modern Democratic Party is without ideas and morally bankrupt. Driven by Bush-hatred, floundering for an identity, and desperate for power, it trades in myths and lies, amply documented here.

Gist: David Limbaugh's book is red meat intended to rouse Republicans to vote. Values, judges, the economy, war-Limbaugh uses the Democrats' own words to create a picture of a party captured by its extreme fringe. This unpleasant trip down memory lane captures the overwrought tenor of the political debate.


In Applebee's America (Simon and Schuster, 2006) Democratic political consultant Douglas Sosnik and Republican consultant Matthew Dowd, along with AP political reporter Ron Fournier, describe an America where "lifestyle choices shape attitudes about politics, shopping, and religion." Their metaphor is Applebee's, the restaurant chain that sells not just food but the idea of community connections, and succeeds through its hiring, decorating, and menu choices.

In Applebee's-style America, people desire community. In 2004 the Republican Party used that approach to find hidden GOP voters. (For example, those who drink bourbon or Dr. Pepper are more likely to be Republicans; those who drink gin or Sprite are more likely to be Democrats.) The authors argue that megachurches have mastered the art of building community by using small groups and emphasizing homogeneity of values, and they cite sociologist Robert Putnam's prediction that over the next several decades the evangelical church movement will be as important to the Republican Party as unions were for Democrats.