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Toni Bentley's THE SURRENDER - Best Books of 2004 - Publishers Weekly

The Best Books of 2004

by Staff -- Publishers Weekly, 12/6/2004

PW’s Best Books of 2004 were chosen by the following PW editors: Fiction: Natasha Wimmer, Emily Chenoweth, Jeff Zaleski; Comics: Calvin Reid, Lynn Andriani, Heidi Macdonald, Douglas Wolk; Mystery: Peter Cannon, Jeff Zaleski; SF/Fantasy/Horror: Peter Cannon; Mass Market: Brianna Yamashita; Nonfiction: Sarah Gold, Lynn Andriani, Michael Scharf, Emily Chenoweth, Marcela Valdes, Brianna Yamashita, Jeff Zaleski; Illustrated: Michael Scharf; Lifestyles: Lynn Andriani; Poetry: Michael Scharf; Religion: Jana Reiss.


The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the Twenty-First Century Moral Landscape
Anita L. Allen (Miramax)
Examples drawn from recent headlines abound—everything from Martha Stewart to physician-assisted suicide—along with lesser known lawsuits and anecdotes from Allen’s past, in this smart survey of want v. should.

Neoconomy: George Bush’s Revolutionary Gamble with America’s Future
Daniel Altman (Public Affairs)
The man who found four billion hidden dollars on Enron’s balance sheets examines the current administration’s books with clarity, force and a sense of mission

The Story of a Life
Aharon Appelfeld, trans. from the Nebrew by Aloma Halter.(Pantheon)
The Holocaust and an artist’s genesis recounted with spare and elegant simplicity—sure to be a classic.

Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game
Red Auerbach and John Feinstein (Little, Brown)
D.C.’s famous China Doll club throught the eyes two of sport’s most sought-after storytellers.

The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir
Toni Bentley (Regan)
A former dancer’s rhapsodic account of transcendence through unbounded passion.

We Shall Overcome: A History of the Civil Rights Movement as It Happened
Herb Boyd. (Sourcebooks)
A stirring march of progress is bookended here by murders (Till; MLK); the accompany CDs, narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, offer everything from protest songs to the recollections of sit-in participants.

The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1933–March 1942
Christopher R. Browning (Univ. of Nebraska/Yad Vashem)
A superb mastery of the sources in what will be the standard work on the Holocaust’s emergence.

Alexander Hamilton
Ron Chernow (Penguin Press)
A consummate biography commensurate with the achievements and complex character of its subject.

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom
Catherine Clinton (Little, Brown)
A deep immersion in Southern history, women’s history and African-American history illuminates the long life (1825-1913) of the woman known as “Moses.”

Torture And Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, And The War On Terror
Mark Danner (New York Review)
A trove of available documents, and then some, related to the scandal.

Neil de Grasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith (Norton)
The most informative, congenial and accessible general look at cosmology in years.

Chronicles: Volume One
Bob Dylan (S&S)
After a career of principled coyness, the growth of Dylan’s artistic conscience.

His Excellency: George Washington
Joseph Ellis (Knopf)
A magisterial account in which the aloof legend is humanized.

Washington’s Crossing
David Fischer (OxfordUniv.)
A general who held himself accountable, magnificently, to a citizenry.

The Search for Nefertiti: The True Story of an Amazing Discovery
Joann Fletcher (Morrow)
A learned and intensely personal chronicle of Fletcher’s career as an Egyptologist and her most groundbreaking discovery.

Nightingales: The Story of Florence Nightingale and Her Remarkable Family
Gillian Gill (Ballantine)
Gill’s knowledge of the era is profound, her judgment sound, her narrative voice cozy—a reader’s delight.

Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary
Alberto Grando, trans. from the Spanish by Luciá Álvarez de Toledo (Newmarket)
A moving, perceptive memoir recounting an eight-month-long South American tour that Granado, then a 29-year-old doctor, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, took in 1952.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt (Norton)
The most vivid and complete portrait of the Bard to date.

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality
Brian Greene (Knopf)
An unparalleled presentation of higher mathematics and physics in clear, felicitous prose.

The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them
Amy Goodman (Hyperion)
Hard-hitting reporting on an array of human rights, government accountability and media responsibility issues—bracing.

The Art of the Interview: Lessons a Master of the Craft
Lawrence Grobel (Three Rivers)
Thoroughly entertaining—the equivalent of a master class on one of the toughest jobs in journalism.

Journey From the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught In Revolutionary Iran
Roya Hakakian (Crown)
A haunting eyewitness account of the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

Jews and the American Soul: Human Nature in the Twentieth Century
Andrew R. Heinze (Princeton)
Groundbreaking, wonderfully researched and consistently provocative, a splendid social history.

Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
Seymour M. Hersh (HarperCollins)
From the horrors committed at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the inner sanctums of America’s intelligence, military, political and diplomatic worlds.

Jerome Robbins: His Life, His Theater, His Dance
Deborah Jowitt (S&S)
A lucid, insightful chronicle of Robbins’s career by the Village Voice dance critic and author of Time and the Dancing Image.

Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Carème, the First Celebrity Chef
Ian Kelly (Walker)
The evocatively detailed story of a man who literally died for gastronomy.

Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes’ Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian State
David L. Kertzer (Houghton Mifflin)
A riveting example of history writing at its best.

Namath: A Biography
Mark Kriegel (Viking)
A feel-good sports story on a 1960s icon abundant with insight and social commentary.

Goat: A Memoir
Brad Land (Random)
A gritty yet unexpectedly tender (and hip) tale of pledging a fraternityin search of respect and admiration.

Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity
Lawrence Lessig (Penguin Press)
An expertly argued, alarming and surprisingly entertaining look at the current copyright wars from the Stanford law professor.

Janet & Me: An Illustrated Story of Love and Loss
Stan Mack (S&S)
A stirring account of Mack’s companion’s struggle with breast cancer—in cartoons.

Rhythm Science
Paul D. Miller aka D.J. Spooky that Subliminal Kid (MIT)
Out of the studio and onto the page (and CD)—a gorgeous, expert gestamtkunstwerk (or total art work).

Civil Wars: A Battle for Gay Marriage
David Moats (Harcourt)
Pulitzer-winner Moats grippingly chronicles the fight in Vermont for the first state law allowing gay civil unions.

Just Work
Russell Muirhead (Harvard)
The contradictory and confounding elements of modern working life confronted.

The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (Norton)
Without trivializing any of the events or diminishing the people involved, a national disaster as Shakespearean drama.

Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis (Public Affairs)
The harrowing story of northern Sudan-born Nazer’s 1994 capture and placement into slavery; a profound meditation on the human ability to survive virtually any circumstances.

Running On Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Peter G. Peterson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Nixon’s secretary of commerce has been right before, and sees disaster looming.

John James Audubon: The Making of an American
Richard Rhodes (Knopf)
A brilliant portrait of the famous Saint Domingue-born naturalist, traveler and artist by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian

Fear: The History of a Political Idea
Corey Robin (OxfordUniv.)
Fear’s Janus-faced potential as catalyst for economic progress and the raison d'être of repressive regimes.

The Invention of Painting in America
David Rosand (ColumbiaUniv.)
American painting from colonial obscurity to its stunning mid–20th-century coming-of-age.

Green River Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer—America’s Deadliest Serial Killer
Ann Rule (Free Press)
Rule validates her standing as one of the preeminent chroniclers of modern serial murder.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
David Sedaris (Little, Brown)
Bitter and sweet, tart and rich, still talking pretty—and his funniest yet.

The Working Poor: Invisible in America
David Shipler (Knopf)
The Sisyphean efforts and difficult lives of Americans who work for substandard wages.

The Creation of the Media
Paul Starr (Basic)
An engrossing, panoramic history of the developmenet of the American media from a Pulitzer winner.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (the Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction
Jon Stewart, with the writers of the Daily Show (Warner)
The ingenious sendup of American politics by the indefatigable new Democratic hero.

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants
Robert Sullivan (Bloomsbury)
A fascinating work of social and urban natural history centered on the humble brown rat.

I Am a Pencil: A Teacher, His Kids, and Their World of Stories
Sam Swope (Holt)
An edifying, moving memoir by a children’s book writer that shows how kids flourish when their imaginations are nurtured and they are challenged to find inner discipline and to write what they see as truth.

Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society
Valery Tishkov (Univ. of California)
Chechnya’s recent horrors, frankly recounted by a former minister of nationalities to Boris Yeltsin.

Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir
Neely Tucker (Crown)
On assignment in Zimbabwe, a foreign correspondent and his wife save the life of an AIDS-afflicted baby and adopt her.

Greenpeace: How a Group of Journalists, Ecologists and Visionaries Changed the World
Rex Weyler (Rodale)
An engaging, brisk and at times emotional inside account of Greenpeace’s early years.

Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry
Evan Wolfson (S&S)
Clear and forceful arguments strictly in terms of civil rights from Freedom to Marry director Wolfson.

Toni Bentley in the New York Times Book Review

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