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Best Books of 2004 (Amazon Editors' Picks)

1.The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks

The result of months of intensive investigations and inquiries by a specially appointed bipartisan panel... read more
2.The Plot Against America: A Novel (Hardcover)
Philip Roth

"What if" scenarios are often suspect. They are sometimes thinly veiled tales of the gospel according to the author, taking on the claustrophobic air of a personal fantasia that can't be shared. Such is not the case with Philip Roth's tour de force... read more
3.The Complete Peanuts 1950-1954 Boxed Set [BOX SET] (Hardcover)
Charles M. Schulz

Good grief! The Complete Peanuts is the most ambitious and most important project in the comics and cartooning genre: over a period of 12 years, Fantagraphics Books will release every daily and Sunday strip of Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts," the best-known and best-loved series in the world... read more
4.The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (Hardcover)
Jon Stewart

A Dress the Supreme Court layout, and, oddly enough, a profile of George "The Iceman" Gervin, America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, from Jon Stewart and the writers of the Emmy Award-winning The ... read more
5.Alexander Hamilton (Hardcover)
Ron Chernow

Building on biographies by Richard Brookhiser and Willard Sterne Randall, Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton provides what may be the most comprehensive modern examination of the often overlooked Founding Father. From the start, Chernow argues that Hamilton's premature death at age 49 left his record to be reinterpreted and even... read more
6.Chronicles, Volume 1 (Hardcover)
Bob Dylan

One would not anticipate a conventional memoir from ... read more
7.My Life (Hardcover)
Bill Clinton

An exhaustive, soul-searching memoir, Bill Clinton's .... read more
8.Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror (Paperback)
Richard Clarke

Few political memoirs have made such a dramatic entrance as that by Richard A. Clarke. During the week of the initial publication of ... read more
9.Candyfreak : A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America (Hardcover)
Steve Almond

Picture a magical, sugar-fueled road trip with Willy Wonka behind the wheel and David Sedaris riding shotgun, complete with chocolate-stained roadmaps and the colorful confetti of spent candy wrappers flying in your cocoa powder dust. If you can imagine ... read more
10.The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, Book 7) (Hardcover)
Stephen King

At one point in this final book of the Dark Tower series, the character Stephen King (added to the plot in Song of Susannah) looks back at the preceding pages and says "when this last book is published, the readers are going to be just wild." And he's not ... read more
11.In the Shadow of No Towers (Board book)
Art Spiegelman

Catastrophic, world-altering events like the September 11 attacks on the United States place the millions of us who experience them on the "fault line where World History and Personal History collide." Most of us, however, cannot document that intersection... read more
12.Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants (Hardcover)
Robert Sullivan

In his third book, Robert Sullivan leaves the wilds of the ... read more
13.Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II (Hardcover)
Robert Kurson

This superlative journalistic narrative tells of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler, two deep-sea wreck divers who in 1991 dove to a mysterious wreck lying at the perilous depth of 230 feet, off the coast of New Jersey. Both had a philosophy of excelling and ... read more
14.Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Hardcover)
Lynne Truss

Who would have thought a book about punctuation could cause such a sensation? Certainly not its modest if indignant author, who began her surprise hit motivated by "horror" and "despair" at the current state of British usage: ungrammatical signs... read more
15.Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (Hardcover)
Stephen Greenblatt

There's no shortage of good Shakespearean biographies. But Stephen Greenblatt, brilliant scholar and author of ... read more
16.Crossing California (Hardcover)
Adam Langer

In Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood in 1979, California Avenue divides the prosperous west side from the struggling east. Langer's brilliant debut uses that divide as a metaphor for the changes that occur in the lives of three neighborhood families ... read more
17.In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits (Hardcover)
National Geographic Society

Through the years, National Geographic magazine's staff photographers have often elevated stock depictions of "exotic" cultures into haunting glimpses of other lives. In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits presents a century of captivating images of ordinary people from around the world--280 photographs of pleasure, grief, stoicism, shyness and sheer ... read more
18.The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations (Hardcover)
James Surowiecki

While our culture generally trusts experts and distrusts the wisdom of the masses... read more
19.The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (Hardcover)
Corinne May Botz

Bizarre and utterly fascinating, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is a dark and disturbing photographic journey through criminal cases and the mind of Frances Glessner Lee--grandmother, dollhouse-maker, and master criminal investigator. Photographer Corinne May Botz stumbled across the "Nutshell Studies" while making a video about women who collect ... read more
20.Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel (Hardcover)
Susanna Clarke

It's 1808 and that Corsican upstart Napoleon is battering the English army and navy. Enter Mr. Norrell, a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside and the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his ... read more
21.The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (Hardcover)
A. J. Jacobs

Imagine, the original Berserkers were "savage Norse soldiers" of the Middle Ages who went into battle stark naked! Or consider the Etruscan habit of writing in "boustrophedon style." Intrigued? Well, either hunker down with your own ... read more
22.Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (Hardcover)
Marjane Satrapi

Picking up the thread where her debut memoir-in-comics concluded, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return details Marjane Satrapi's experiences as a young Iranian woman cast abroad by political turmoil in her native country. Older, if not exactly wiser, Marjane reconciles her upbringing in war-shattered Tehran with new surroundings ... read more
23.The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker (Hardcover)
Robert Mankoff

What could be better than a gigantic 656-page collection of 2,004 (get it?) of the best cartoons published in the... read more
24.The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words (Hardcover)
Susan P. Halpern

Halpern, a psychotherapist, social worker and founder of the New York Cancer Help Program, shares here her considerable expertise on how best to comfort a close friend, colleague or relation who is living with a serious physical or mental illness. Practica... read more
25.Goat: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Brad Land

Adult/High School-Land's memoir about fraternity hazing and his relationship with his charismatic, more confident younger brother, Brett, has received a lot of publicity. However, in spite of all the hype, it is not well written and it's unlikely to resona... read more
26.His Excellency: George Washington (Hardcover)
Joseph J. Ellis

As commander of the Continental army, George Washington united the American colonies, defeated the British army, and became the world's most famous man. But how much do Americans really know about their first president? Today, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Jos... read more
27.Cloud Atlas: A Novel (Paperback)
David Mitchell

At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell's third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell's previous works... read more
28.Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Nick Flynn

Flynn's wayward father, a self-styled writer and ex-con, describes his life on Boston's streets as "another bullshit night in Suck City": he hangs out in ATM lobbies, stuffs his coat with newspaper and is often "still drunk from the night before."... read more
29.Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War (Abarat) (Hardcover)
Clive Barker

The eagerly anticipated second volume of Clive Barker's four part fantasy series, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, picks up right where the highly praised first novel leaves off. Candy Quakenbush is still on the run from the Lord of Midnight, Christopher Carrion, who plans to establish ... read more
30.New York: The Photo Atlas (Hardcover)

From thousands of feet up, New York, with its grid of blocks, looks more like a circuit board than a city; its bodies of water more like airbrushed spills than the gigantic moats they in fact are. This giant book is just what it says it is: New York City ... read more
31.McSweeney's Issue 13 (Mcsweeney's Quarterly Concern) (Hardcover)
Editors of McSweeney's

Guest-editing Dave Eggers's literary journal, Jimmy Corrigan cartoonist Ware has assembled a beautifully designed anthology of contemporary art comics, with a few vintage treats thrown in, including an excerpt from "Obadiah Oldbuck"an 1842 publication that's arguably the first American comic bookand a series of very rough sketches by Charles ... read more
32.The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation's Greatest Magazine
Davy Rothbart

In the tradition of NPR's National Story Project comes this funky collection of letters, flyers and other miscellany from the pages ... read more
33.Veronica : A Novel
Seymour M. Hersh

Seymour Hersh has been a legendary investigative reporter since 1969 when he broke the My Lai story in Vietnam. His considerable skill and well-placed sources inside the government, intelligence community, military, and the diplomatic corps have allowed... read more
34.Generation Kill (Hardcover)
Evan Wright

Wright rode into Iraq on March 20, 2003, with a platoon of First Reconnaissance Battalion Marines... read more
35.The Master (Hardcover)
Colm Toibin

It's a bold writer indeed who dares to put himself inside the mind of novelist Henry James, but that is what ... read more
36.The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor (Hardcover)
Ken Silverstein

On June 26, 1995 the people of Golf Manor, Michigan returned from work to find a federal EPA crew dismantling a potting shed in Patty Hahn's back yard. In subsequent days, the crew, wearing protective suits, carted away the refuse in sealed barrels emblazo... read more
37.The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness (Hardcover)
James Campbell

Heimo Korth was one of the many young men who set out for Alaska in the 1960s and '70s to recreate the life of early fur traders in the American West, a movement first observed in John McPhee's classic ... read more
38.Hidden: A Novel (Hardcover)
Paul Jaskunas

An Indiana woman whose world was shattered in one fateful night spends the entirety of this meditative literary debut/sleepy thriller unraveling its events. Twenty-two-year-old Maggie's crumbling marriage takes its final blow when she is beaten nearly to... read more
39.The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright (Hardcover)
Jean Nathan

In 1957, The Lonely Doll made model/actress turned author/photographer Dare Wright famous. The children's book told the story of Edith, a lonely doll until two teddy bearsa father and soncome to live with her. This dark and painfully poignant biography, tells the story of the beautiful and creative Dare ... read more
40.Namath: A Biography (Hardcover)
Mark Kriegel

Avoiding the pitfalls of mythology while telling a larger-than-life story is never easy, but Kriegel does it grandly in this landmark portrait of the 1960s icon. From the segregated South to the era of showbiz sports, Namath has a Forrest Gump-like way of ... read more
41.Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man's Tour of Duty Inside the IRS (Hardcover)
Richard Yancey

Imagine if Brad Meltzer or John Grisham's first book had been a memoir about working for the Internal Revenue Service and you have an idea of just how thrilling Richard Yancey's ... read more
42.Magical Thinking: True Stories (Hardcover)
Augusten Burroughs

It's best to know this from the start: Augusten Burroughs is mean. Augusten Burroughs is also outrageously X-rated. If you can get past those two things, Burroughs might just be the most refreshing voice in American books today, and his collection of acerbic essays will have you laughing out ... read more
43.Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 (Hardcover)
Bryan Burrough

Burrough, an award-winning financial journalist and ... read more
44.Darkly Dreaming Dexter: A Novel (Hardcover)
Jeff Lindsay

Meet Dexter Morgan. He's a highly respected lab technician specializing in blood spatter for the Miami Dade Police Department. He's a handsome, though reluctant, ladies' man. He's polite, says all the right things, and rarely calls attention to himself.... read more
45.The Reformation: A History (Hardcover)
Diarmaid MacCulloch

Diarmaid MacCulloch wrote what is widely considered to be the authoritative account of the Reformation... read more
46.The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3) (Hardcover)
Neal Stephenson

The colossal and impressive third volume (after Quicksilver and The Confusion) of Stephenson's magisterial exploration of the origins of the modern world in the scientific revolution of the baroque era begins in 1714. Daniel Waterhouse has returned to England, hoping to mediate the feud between Sir Isaac Newton and ... read more
47.Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer (Hardcover)
Lynne Cox

Just about every other person in the world seems like an unfocused dilettante compared to long-distance swimming legend Lynne Cox. Soon At the age of 14, after several years of training hard in pools and the open sea, she was swimming the 26 mile stretch ... read more
48.Eleanor Rigby : A Novel
Neil deGrasse Tyson

In this companion volume to the two-part NOVA television special by the same title, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and astronomy writer Donald Goldsmith attempt to cram 14 billion years of history into 300 pages. The result of this audacious exercise is a surprising and engrossing book, one that far ... read more
49.Hard Revolution: A Novel (Hardcover)
George Pelecanos

The author's admirers are familiar with middle-aged black PI Derek Strange, featured in several novels (Soul Circus, etc.) so strong that one critic has dubbed Pelecanos the Zola of contemporary crime fiction. This memorable tale is a prequel to those ... read more
50.I Looked Alive: Stories (Paperback)
Gary Lutz

Acclaimed writer Gary Lutz introduces a new cast of characters in his second collection: wayward fusspots, smart alecks, tank-town boulevardiers, lonely hearts, and underloved, unstable creatures of questionable gender. Desperate for human connection, they... read more

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