In this week's issue of the Boston Phoenix -- in print tomorrow, online now -- I contribute to our "Year In Review" issue with a look at the top-selling conservative books of 2009.
Conservative titles -- by Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, et al -- dominated the best-seller lists this year, as part of the booming "movement conservative marketplace," as I have previously dubbed it. I take a look at their contents, and their success, and what it all means.
Before I send you off to the essay (and the online bonus, reviews of all eight books!), I want to make a quick point about books that did not sell like gangbusters among the right. Those books fall broadly into three categories.
The first are books by serious authors, journalists, and political figures. There were plenty of them published in 2009, either by or about conservatives. Of the ones I've read, I would particularly recommend "American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia," by Joan Biskupic; and "Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan," by Kim Phillips-Fein. None got anywhere near the top of the Times list (with the exception of Sarah Palin's memoir) -- buyers were only interested in books with no original research or reporting, by brand-name writers from the conservative marketplace.
Also not selling well were books by conservatives arguing against extremism, and for moderation. The only one of these to crack the Top 10 was Joe Scarborough's "Last Best Hope," which briefly poked up to #7, and sold poorly compared with other TV and radio talk hosts. Others in this category included Sam Tenenhaus's "The Death of Conservatism," and "Grand New Party" by Russ Routhat and Reihan Salam. Clearly, conservative book-buyers were not interested in that message.
But they were also not scooping up the truly rabid screeds, which are the third category. Jerome Corsi, for example, reached number one last year with "Obama Nation," but peaked at #11 in 2009 with "America For Sale" -- which warns that one-world government is now inevitable. Even worse sales figures were tallied by over-the-top books by Bruce Bawer, William Donohue, and Jamie Glazov, to name just a few of many.
With all that said... Here are the links:
Reading is Fundamentalist: Conservative screeds dominated the book charts this year. Will
future election results follow the bestseller lists?
Rants of the Right: Going where few reviewers dare to tread