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By Jones, Malcolm; Wittmann, LUcas | Newsweek, April 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

Read All about It


Jones, Malcolm, Wittmann, LUcas, Newsweek


Byline: Malcolm Jones and LUcas Wittmann

How does the New York Times bestseller list of March 1966 match up with today's?

NONFICTION

1. 1966: In Cold Blood.

By Truman Capote.

2012: American Sniper.

By Chris Kyle with Scott McEwan.

THEN: People knew then (Capote made Newsweek's cover) what people know now: it may not be the first nonfiction novel, it may not even all be true. Somehow it doesn't matter. It is, as Rebecca West said, "a grave and reverend book," and a helluva read. NOW: A SEAL sniper recounts his long-distance kills. WINNER: Capote.

2. 1966: The Proud Tower.

By Barbara Tuchman.

2012: The Power of Habit.

By Charles Duhigg.

THEN: Never condescending, never dumbing-down, Tuchman describes the decline and fall of old Europe into the funeral pyre of World War I with lucid intelligence and graceful prose. NOW: Why we do the things we do. WINNER: Tuchman.

3. 1966: A Thousand Days.

By Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

2012: Steve Jobs.

By Walter Isaacson.

THEN: Rarely do we get to read the first draft of a legend-in-the-making but that's exactly what historian and Kennedy confidante Schlesinger did with his account of Kennedy's presidency. Too fawning to be considered authoritative, too revealing to be ignored, it still bears reading. NOW: The first draft of the Steve Jobs legend. WINNER: Tie.

4. 1966: The Last Hundred Days.

By John Toland.

2012: Killing Lincoln.

By Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.

THEN: The last months of World War II in Europe saw the liberation of the extermination camps, the Yalta summit, and Hitler's bunker Gotterdammerung. NOW: Fox host narrates the death of Lincoln. WINNER: Toland.

5. 1966: Games People Play.

By Eric Berne.

2012: Quiet.

By Susan Cain.

THEN: One of the first pop-psychology books ever. Berne's mega-seller promised to explain what really happens when people interact through the sexual, power, and other games people play. NOW: Cain's book follows in that seductive tradition of trying to help people better understand themselves, even if they don't always listen. WINNER: Berne, just.

6. 1966: A Gift of Prophecy.

By Ruth Montgomery.

2012: Unbroken.

By Laura Hillenbrand.

THEN: The biography that made Jeane Dixon the most famous psychic in America. Dixon's big claim to fame was predicting the death of, yes, John F. Kennedy. NOW: Heroism, impossible odds, and triumph in the life of Louis Zamperini. WINNER: Hillenbrand, easy.

7. 1966: Kennedy.

By Theodore C. Sorensen.

2012: Ameritopia.

By Mark R. Levin.

THEN: Bob Woodward cry your heart out--Sorensen was actually there, a buzzing fly at the table of the most significant moments of JFK's presidency. He saw it all, he gave Kennedy his words, and then he wrote just what America needed. NOW: How the left is destroying America (take that, Jack). WINNER: Sorensen.

8. 1966: The Last Battle.

By Cornelius Ryan.

2012: Bringing Up Bebe.

By Pamela Druckerman.

THEN: From the honeyed pen of a veteran war correspondent, all the bloodshed, voices, and terrifying "you are there" account of the desperate final battle for Berlin. (Hint: Think Ambrose but better.) NOW: French kids eat spinach and ours can too. WINNER: Ryan.

9. 1966: I Saw Red China.

By Lisa Hobbs.

2012: Thinking Fast and Slow.

By Daniel Kahneman.

THEN: A memoir by the first newspaperwoman to visit Communist China, who became entranced with the country's great experiment. NOW: Nobel Prize winner revolutionizes how we think about how we make decisions. WINNER: Kahneman.

10. 1966: The Lady of the House.

By Sally Stanford. …

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