Book Shelf:  2003 Books


Link to 2002 Book List


This web page lists all books appearing on the pages of Executive Times during 2003. You can click on the title to jump to the detailed book review. Click on the picture of the jacket cover to jump to where you can purchase a copy of the book. You can jump to an issue of Executive Times by hitting the date in the “Issue Date” column.




Key to Ratings:



Outstanding book-read it now



Highly recommended






Mildly recommended



Read if your interest is strong




Do Not Read: Take a Pass

















Title (Click on Link to go to Book Review)



Issue Date


Click on Picture to Purchase at

One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church

Abanes, Richard

Feb 03

Saints Revealed. From Joseph Smith at the beginning to the 2002 Olympics, Abanes presents a history of Mormonism that reveals them to be a cult, not the Christian religion they present to the world.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Albom, Mitch

Nov 03

Otherworldly. A harmless, sentimental effort to imagine life in heaven being introduced to the recently departed by five people whose lives you affected in some form or other while you were on earth.

Brick Lane

Ali, Monica

Nov 03

Elsewhere. Readers take an enjoyable journey into the immigrant Bangladesh community in London through Ali’s skilled mastery of description, dialogue and plot.

Ready For Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life

Allen, David


Nov 03

Oz. Wizard of productivity takes readers behind the curtain where they find: not much. 160 pages of recycled, repetitive, rambling drivel. Take a pass and do something productive instead.

To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian

Ambrose, Stephen E.

Jan 03

Spirit of Optimism. Read this farewell book from a fine chronicler of people and events and come away feeling better about America, Americans, and our many individual and collective achievements.

Perfect Enough: Carly Fiorina and the Reinvention of Hewlett-Packard

Anders, George

May 03

Sell. Anders tells ample stories about the past and present career of Carly Fiorina and her achievement of landing the top H-P job and merging with Compaq. Engaging stories make this book a pleasure to read.

Tales from the Boom-Boom Room: Women vs. Wall Street

Antilla, Susan

May 03

Explosive. Life for women trying to succeed on Wall Street in recent decades was worse than you ever imagined. Antilla tells what happened, how women sued, how Wall Street made changes, and how legal strategists kept things quiet and inexpensive.

Every Second Counts

Armstrong, Lance

Dec 03

Discomfort. How do you spend your time? Tour de France champion and cancer survivor provides dozens of stories that reinforce the reality that every second brings us closer to or further away from our goals.

Oryx and Crake

Atwood, Margaret

June 03

Tomorrow. Finely-crafted novel of what our world could become as we experience the missteps of genetic experiments, corporate imperialism, the values of games and media, and the ability of one person to make all the difference.

To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders

Bailyn, Bernard

May 03

All-American Ambiguity. Bailyn analyzes several leading founders of the United States and succinctly describes both their key contributions and the inconsistencies and real humanity of their lives.

A Box of Matches

Baker, Nicholson

Mar 03

One a Day. Each chapter opens with the lighting of the fireplace with a match. Readers are invited into the mind of the lighter which Baker exposes day by day in multiple ways. Quirky and interesting.

The Christmas Train

Baldacci, David

Jan 03

No Twain. Weak dialogue, unsympathetic characters, lame story, slow plot development. Happily, it’s not too many pages. Modeled after a story Mark Twain didn’t write. Our loss.

On Top of the World

Barbash, Tom

July 03

Good Grief. College-friend gives insider perspective on Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick and what happened before and after the events of 9/11. Whatever readers think of Lutnick now will be amended after reading this book.

Jennifer Government

Barry, Max

Sep 03

Affinities. Corporate marketing becomes malevolent in this creative satire. If you think marketing is already evil, you’ll love this book.

Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth

Bell, Derrick

Jan 03

A Path to Happiness. An opportunity to eavesdrop as this lawyer and professor reminisces about the decisions he’s made to follow an ethical path to happiness.

The Break-out Principle

Benson, Herbert

July 03

Hit the Switch. Departure from factless self-help books presents insights from decades of mind-body research and proposes practical ways to generate a trigger leading to some form of self-transformation.

The Number

Berenson, Alex

July 03

Penny Wise. How did Wall Street and corporations become so focused on quarterly earnings? Read this well-paced reflection on events in recent decades that brought us to our current situation of corporate scandals and the low reputations of corporate executives.

Say When

Berg, Elizabeth

July 03

Yes, Virginia. Griffen becomes a Santa and finds out what’s important in life. Berg’s dialog is always spot on, and her insights into human nature are rich, let alone her settings in our very own neighborhood.

Best Friends

Berger, Thomas

Aug 03

Ambiguous. Psychological novel of two long-time friends reaching middle age, feeling different about themselves and each other. Finely written.

You Look Nice Today

Bing, Stanley

Nov 03

Worklife. Few novels capture what real office work is like. Here’s the exception, with the occasional exaggeration for pleasure. Interesting times when a comment like that in the title can lead to a sexual harassment suit.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle Earth

Birzer, Bradley J.

Feb 03

Holy Hobbits. What the value of myth is to all of us, and what myth, Middle Earth, and Catholicism meant to Tolkien who wanted to return England to its pre-World War I bucolic life.

Full Steam Ahead

Blanchard, Ken

Sep 03

Steady As She Goes. Expecting seasickness, nausea and a DNR rating for the latest from the perennially sappy Blanchard, we came away nodding in agreement with some of the practical and useful thoughts from this new offering.

The Clinton Wars

Blumenthal, SIdney

Aug 03

Soldier. Recent history written by Clinton top aide who weaves his personal story into the context of events. Well written by talented journalist, the 800 pages may be more than some readers want to absorb.

Who Moved My Soap? The CEO’s Guide to Surviving in Prison

Borowitz, Andy

July 03

Snickers. When you pick up this book to read and not buy while snacking at the bookstore, you may chuckle, smile or snicker, but don’t expect to laugh out loud or spit out your latte. 

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Bossidy, Larry and Ram Charan

Jan 03

What It’s All About. If you’re an executive, you should know the discipline of execution, which is what executives do. The authors present a primer on what this means for today’s organizations.

Finders Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million

Bowden, Mark

Mar 03

Stupid Addict. An account of a week in the life of Joey Coyle who tried to get away with keeping the $1 million that fell off an armored truck, and that he found on the street. Depressing.

Drop City

Boyle, T.C.

Aug 03

Acidic. If you can dig a return to the 1960s and can dig a communal, rural back-to basics-life, you’ll find this book totally cool. Boyle writes masterfully and captures dialogue, drugs, and places with precision.

High and Mighty: SUVs: The World’s Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got There

Bradsher, Keith

May 03

Pigs on Stilts. SUV lovers will feel their blood pressure elevate on every page of this SUV-bashing book by NY Times writer. Those who loathe SUVs will find plenty of facts to support their position. SUV myths are debunked.

Woodrow Wilson

Brands, H.W.

Oct 03

Eloquence. Skilled historian presents brief bio of former President, whom we now call Tommy. Tightly packed with personal formation, academic success, wartime leadership, and postwar missteps in peacemaking.

What Should I Do With My Life?

Bronson, Po

June 03

Glimmers. Bronson’s wandering the country to find out how others have answered this question provide glimmers of self-knowledge for readers, glimmers of newly discovered talents. Savor this slowly and listen for the glimmers that may change your life.

The DaVinci Code

Brown, Dan

July 03

Templars. Fast-paced thriller along the lines of Cussler or Ludlum. Imaginative, yet connected enough to real groups like Opus Dei and the Templars to make readers wonder. Fine vacation reading.

Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron

Bryce, Robert

Jan 03

Me First. The rot at Enron started at the head. The lack of integrity and character, the self-serving, the arrogance of the bright, are revealed in all their venality in this fascinating book.

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Bryson, Bill

Aug 03

Connections. Bryson’s wit and basic questions grabs our attention and holds it as the answers lead to more questions about astronomy, geology, chemistry, biology, and physics.

Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman

Buchan, Elizabeth

Apr 03

Sweet. Rose’s assistant takes her husband and her job in the same week. Through Buchan’s wit, grace, charm, poignancy, and very fine writing, readers enjoy Rose’s gradual transformation through the stages of grief and into a new life.

Washington Schlepped Here: Walking in the Nation’s Capital

Buckley, Christopher

June 03

The Two Schlep. Informative, historically accurate, walking tours of Washington, DC, peppered with a humorist’s élan and a fan’s enthusiasm. Read our disclosures in the full review before you accept our rating.

Getting It Right

Buckley, Jr., William F.

June 03

Origins. The roots of the modern conservative movement can be found in the John Birch Society and among the followers of Ayn Rand. Buckley uses the genre of historical fiction to tell readers what he thinks happened at the creation. The portrayal of Alan Greenspan, who was a Randian, is a gem.

Rodeo Queens and the American Dream

Burbick, Joan

Feb 03

Pantomime. Thoughtful and well-written perspective on the women who represented the rodeo and reinforced a way of life in the American West that never really happened.

Backfire: Carly Fiorina’s High-Stakes Battle for the Soul of Hewlett-Packard

Burrows, Peter

May 03

Unfriendly fire. Fiorina is the villain out to destroy all the good that Bill and Dave built at H-P. Too negative for our taste, but interesting to read alongside Anders’ more flattering Perfect Enough. Besides, if we expect to find souls in companies, we have more problems than Fiorina’s style.

Secret Father

Carroll, James

Oct 03

Legacy. Recollections by father and son narrators of what happened to trio of teens in Germany in the weeks before the wall was erected. Secrets that were kept are revealed. A legacy is passed along from one generation to another. Understanding develops over time, and with perspective.

Golf for Enlightenment: The Seven Lessons for the Game of Life

Chopra, Deepak


June 03

Lights Out. Our first exposure to a Chopra book left us wondering what others find good about his writing. Take a pass, or just play through.

The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction

Citrin, James M.

Oct 03

Provocative. No matter what degree of success or satisfaction you’ve achieved in your career, you’ll find something to think about when you read this insightful book based on analysis of successful executives.

Living History

Clinton, Hillary Rodham

Aug 03

Lifeless. Political junkies may enjoy this 534 page memoir, but most readers will find the writing detached and revealing little about the author. Sometimes it reads like a travelogue; other times like a policy essay.

It Was Today

Codrescu, Andrei

Dec 03

Dreams. Poets use words and images to show us who we are and where we are heading. This collection does that well, whether we like the images or not.

A Consumer’s Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America

Cohen, Lizabeth

May 03

Citizen Shopper. Prosperity arrived to Postwar America in the form of government action prompted by consumers active in political processes pushing for national action. Cohen presents what we had, what we lost, and what we can restore.

Nine Horses: Poems

Collins, Billy

Feb 03

Gallops. If you’ve not read any poems by our current poet laureate, you may as well start with this latest collection. Finely written. Some funny; some sad.

The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home

Colt, George Howe

Dec 03

Twits. Fine writing about a Boston Brahmin family’s 100-year attachment to a Cape Cod summer home that they almost sell outside the family because of neglect and cluelessness.

Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II

Conant, Jennet

Jan 03

Catalyst. Thanks to the money Alfred Loomis spent on a private research lab, the Allies were able to use radar to win World War II.


Cook, Robin

Sep 03

Slippery Slope. Unethical medical behavior leads to major crimes and punishment. Poor writing overall, with weak dialogue, predictable plot, and shallow character motivation.

I Am What I Ate … and I’m Frightened!! : and Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy

Cosby, Bill

Dec 03

Yummy. Savor a funny exploration of the joys and sorrows of eating, especially everything that’s not good for you. Readers can almost hear Cosby’s voice and pacing of the text.

Love in Idleness

Craig, Amanda

Oct 03

Dreamy. Reprise of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream using the form of an English extended family and friends on vacation in Tuscany, where all the magic happens. Clever and deft writing provides an amusing diversion.


Crichton, Michael

Feb 03

Mechanical Plague. Typical weak dialogue and writing, but strong plot full of wildly creative ideas. Scary story of the merger of biology and technology. A quick read.

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World

Critser, Greg

Mar 03

First Circle of Fat Hell. A tedious and fascinating account of how we’ve gotten so fat, and why Earl Butz takes a lot of the blame. Some interesting case studies and a shocking view of the future.

Moon’s Crossing

Croft, Barbara

Sep 03

Spinning. Debut novel from short story writer spins together the life of Jim Moon with tales from the Civil War, his Iowa marriage, the way the World’s Columbian Exposition captivated him, and how he died in New York. Lyrical, confusing at times, and replete with sub=plots that seem to go nowhere.

Good Business: Leadership, Flow and the Making of Meaning

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly

June 03

White Hats. A respite from the business scandal books. From interviews with executives who’ve done a good job, we learn how business can be done well, and the hurdles that need to be overcome.

Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America

Culinary Institute of America

Dec 03

Bland. Interesting photos and clear descriptions of basic cooking methods that may be helpful for kitchen novices. Boring recipes lead readers to want to eat out.

Letters to a Young Conservative

D’Souza, Dinesh

Jan 03

Compelling. D’Souza delivers an articulate case for conservatism in the form of letters from him to a college student. Whether you agree or disagree with D’Souza’s politics, his writing is fine and his case is compelling.

The Quality of Life Report

Daum, Meghan

Sep 03

Addicted. Debut novel pokes fun at NYC self centeredness and Midwestern political correctness as protagonist leaves NYC seeking an improved quality of life, but finding cycles of addiction and recovery.

The New Culture of Desire: 5 Radical Strategies That Will Change Your Business and Your Life

Davis, Melinda

Feb 03

Oh O. Thanks to something called The Human Desire Project, we know way too much about what people want and the lengths to which they’ll go to get it. Some desires should be sublimated.

E2: Using the Power of Ethics and Etiquette in American Business

Davis, Phyllis

Sep 03

Right Shoulder. More etiquette than ethics, and few business leaders want to read about etiquette. Agreed with her name tag advice (right shoulder). Read our excerpt on business meetings before taking on the whole book.

A Travel Guide to Heaven

DeStefano, Anthony

Dec 03

Cute. Upbeat and comforting view of life in heaven, especially for those who have recently lost loved ones. Even included our image: “,,, reading a really good book by the fireside with a hot cup of tea nearby…”


Dexter, Pete

Dec 03

Raw. Superb writing about dimensions of pain and the struggles of relationships. Sparse writing style keeps readers happily glued to every page.

Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush

Dubose, Lou

June 03

Turd Blossom. Largely self-taught, Rove lives and breathes politics, and has been right more than wrong in the advice he’s given. Read this book and find out more about his nicknames and talents.


Eco, Umberto

Apr 03

Liar’s lair. Hard to figure out when Baudolino is lying, or what he’s saying in the first place. Read the full review to find out why we abandoned the text and listened to an audio version instead.

Envy: The Seven Deadly Sins

Epstein, Joseph

Nov 03

Green. Witty, thoughtful, exploration of the many dimensions of envy and the variety of forms in takes during our lives.

Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril

Ferris, Timothy

Feb 03

Look Up. Outstanding science writer takes readers into the world of amateur astronomers and the contributions they make. Makes you want to buy a telescope and look up at the night sky.

Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America

Fialka, John J.

Apr 03

Yes, Sister. Fialka traces the arrival of small groups of nuns in America in the 19th century through their 1965 apex of 179,000 sisters, to today’s situation where half the remaining sisters are aged seventy and older.

Hornet Flight

Follett, Ken

Feb 03

Soars. Interesting and appealing heroes and villains whom we cheer or jeer as the action unfolds. Heroes in trouble at every turn, and villains get lucky far too often in this exciting tale of the Danish resistance during World War II.

How to Become a Great Boss: The Rules for Getting and Keeping the Best Employees

Fox, Jeffrey J.

Sep 03

Straightforward. Brief, clear and plain talk about being a boss. Even if you hate “how to” books, you may find some of this inspiring, practical and usable.

Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them … a Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

Franken, Al

Nov 03

Truths. Had Fox not complained about the title, we might have skipped reading this one. Turns out to be less humorous and more serious than we expected. Franken may not be the best spokesman for his positions, but he presents enough facts to cheer those who are weary of the Right.

The New Rabbi

Fried, Stephen

Apr 03

Fathers. Three books in one: Temple Har Zion’s search for a new rabbi; Fried’s deepening religious observance; and the ways that fathers and sons relate. Readers from any religious tradition, or none, will find this book fascinating to read.

The Politics of Fortune: A New Agenda for Business Leaders

Garten, Jeffrey E.

Apr 03

Manifesto for CEO Action. 22 “shoulds” for executive involvement in public policy that may raise your blood pressure and stimulate your thinking.

The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism

Gaudiani, Claire

Nov 03

Generosity. Have you concluded that America is rich because we are generous? You may increase your charitable giving after reading this book.

Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value

George, Bill

Oct 03

Journey. Outstanding book by former Medtronic CEO, who “gets it.” There are five dimensions to being an authentic leader: understanding why you want to lead, practicing solid values, leading with a heart, establishing connected relationships, and showing self-discipline. Read this book now.

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround

Gerstner, Louis V.

May 03

Fandango. Former head of IBM discloses why he took the job, how key decisions were made, and what it took to transform the organization. Well written, insightful, with some “aha” moments for long-time IBM watchers.

Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War

Gingrich, Newt

July 03

Revolting. Former Speaker of the House presents an imaginative, and probably plausible,  version of what could have happened at the Battle of Gettysburg, messing with the memories we have of what really happened. Newt may wish this had happened, but readers know what really took place.

The Importance of Being Lazy: In Praise of Play, Leisure, and Vacations

Gini, Al

Oct 03

Time Out. Philosophy professor provides well-developed rationale for taking breaks in various forms, including an extended vacation. Read while working, not while relaxing.


Giuliani, Rudolph W.

Mar 03

Like a Rock. Whether you like Rudy and his positions or not, you’ll enjoy reading his 14 points for leadership and his many practical examples of leading effectively.

Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead People Who Deliver Through Technology

Glen, Paul


Apr 03

All Geek to Him. Geeks aren’t as different from the rest of us as Glen proposes. There may be worse books on the business shelves this season, but we haven’t read them (yet).

Rude Awakenings: Overcoming the Civility Crisis in the Workplace

Gonthier, Giovinella

Mar 03

Excuse Me. More than you’d ever want to know about solving problems in the workplace. Readers who experience a civility crisis in the workplace will probably love this book. The rest of us are the case studies. Take a pass.

The Spirit of Family

Gore, Al and Tipper

Feb 03

256,000 words. 256 pictures on the theme of family show the diversity and uniqueness of American families.

Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball

Gould, Stephen Jay

Oct 03

Champion. Gould loved baseball almost as much as paleontology, and his writing on the sport soars. Posthumous collection of essays appeals both to fans of baseball and fans of fine writing.

Second Spring

Greeley, Andrew M.

June 03

O’Malley’s Return. Greeley reprises the crazy O’Malleys and sends them to Rome in 1978 for two papal conclaves. Relaxing, predictable, and entertaining with clean and wholesome intimate relationships.

The Bishop Goes to The University

Greeley, Andrew M.

Nov 03

Academic. Greeley reprises detective Bishop Blackie Ryan who solves a murder mystery at The university (which all know is the University of Chicago). Pleasant and entertaining, but dialog gets tedious after a while.


Grisham, John

Dec 03

Heroes. Success at high school football isn’t what life is all about. The players and coaches who achieve that success don’t merit hero status. If for some reason you’re interested in that or if you like Grisham’s writing, this book’s for you.

The King of Torts

Grisham, John

Mar 03

Reform. Warning: this book only worth reading by rabid Grisham fans or people who want to read whatever’s popular. Weak characters, poor dialogue. It’s all here.

Swimming Across: A Memoir

Grove, Andrew S.

Aug 03

Immigration and Naturalization. The charming story of the early life of Intel CEO Andy Grove with life lessons for all readers. From his birth through his arrival in America following the Hungarian Revolution.

Our Lady of the Forest

Guterson, David

Dec 03

Dense. Lazy writer overplays guilt and scene, but fails to get enough details right to allow a willing suspension of disbelief.

Disturbance of the Inner Ear

Hackett, Joyce

Mar 03

Lingering Melody. Debut novel embraces the cello, grief, concentration camp life and its aftermath, love, loyalty, and survival. Tightly written inner and outer journey of a fascinating woman and a cello named the Savant.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Haddon, Mark

Sep 03

Unique. Creative debut novel uses a narrator with autism to reveal the story and allow readers a glimpse into the world view of those with autism. Best debut novel read so far this year.

The Kingmaker

Haig, Brian

Mar 03

Uncle. Haig pumped out too many pages without honing his writing skills. With his latest, we cried “uncle.” Predictable plot in military, legal non-thriller.

The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship

Halberstam, David

July 03

Friends Forever. Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr and Dominic DiMaggio didn’t just play baseball on the same team, they became lifelong friends. Read and find out from an award-winning writer why they have no regrets about how they’ve lived their lives.

Losing My Faculties: A Teacher’s Story

Halpin, Brian

Nov 03

Instructive. You don’t need to be a teacher to enjoy and learn from this reflection on what makes us happy or sad at work. Bosses, co-workers and situations resonate for anyone who has ever worked.

Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World

Hanh, Thich Nhat

Oct 03

Teacher. The practice of peace always begins right here, right now. Busy executives may enjoy the excerpt about taking time to live, and using a tea meditation to nourish mutual understanding and happiness.

Isn’t It Romantic

Hansen, Ron

Apr 03

Franco-American Treats. French tourists find Nebraska, love, fine wine from the magic waters of Frenchman’s Creek. Given Hansen’s versatile writing skills, readers will laugh at loud. 

Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday

Hemley, Robin

Aug 03

Exploitation. Were the Tasaday fakes, or really a primitive, unspoiled tribe at the time news stories about them were spread worldwide? Were those who called this a scam the real liars? If you care about these questions, this is the book for you.

The Dinner Club: How the Masters of the Internet Universe Rode the Rise and Fall of the Greatest Boom in History

Henry, Shannon

Mar 03

Fly on the Wall. The moguls let a reporter sit in on the dinners of their monthly investment club. She lets readers in on what happened behind closed doors and how the investments of this group of experts performed.

Where the Truth Lies

Holmes, Rupert

Nov 03

Secrets. Fine writing offers plot, dialogue and memorable characters in the context of a study and reflection on how self-interest, friendship and relationships interact.

Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

Horwitz, Tony

May 03

South Pacific Overtures. Nothing we’ve read in years is quite like this odd book. Author and cohorts roam around to places where Cook went and compare what those places are like now to what they were like in Cook’s time.

Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are Undermining America

Huffington, Arianna

Apr 03

Sharply Pointed. Witty, sometimes tiresome, cleverly written smorgasbord of corporate scandals and proposals for reform. Enjoy her irreverent writing style and pointed judgments.

The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood Before the War

Hynes, Samuel

May 03

Ebullient. Vivid images of one man’s formative years during the Depression, and the wisdom he’s able to covey today about those times. Upbeat memoir with the right balance of mischief and struggle.

Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order

Kagan, Robert

June 03

John Wayne and Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys. Useful primer on the basis of the current relationship between the U.S. and Europe. Made us want to learn more.

Love Me

Keillor, Garrison

Oct 03

Ups and Downs. Spotty novel of Minnesota writer who produces a hit, moves to New York, and discovers failure. Touching at times, hilarious now and again, tedious after a while.

Office of Innocence

Keneally, Thomas

Oct 03

Thoughtful. Keneally reveals the flaws of human nature in multiple characters of this well-written novel, calling our attention to who is innocent and who is not.

A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love

Kennedy, Caroline

July 03

Salute. Just the right resource book to fill a space on your bookshelf. A comprehensive collection that’s inspiring and thought-provoking, whether you’re happy or depressed about life in these United States.

Journal of the Dead: A Story of Friendship and Murder in the New Mexico Desert

Kersten, Jason

Nov 03

Dry. Journalist takes sensational and macabre story and presents it a piece at a time, with little insight and flair.

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

King, Ross

May 03

Soars. Open these pages and leave behind your images from The Agony and the Ecstasy. Learn things you never knew about the great artist and one of his masterworks.

From a Buick 8

King, Stephen

Jan 03

Classic. King’s character development reaches a high point in this book. Allowing multiple narrators, the voices of each character show King’s ability to bring characters to life and keep them differentiated.

Goodnight, Nobody

Knight, Michael

Apr 03

Mesmerizing. Nine well-written short stories full of imaginative plots, and enough character development to please readers.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Krakauer, Jon

Sep 03

Quest for Truth. Well-written exploration of the sources and formation of modern Mormon Fundamentalists and their violent and bloody quest for creating and preserving religious faith in the West. 

The Pleasures of Slow Food: Celebrating Authentic Traditions, Flavors, and Recipes

Kummer, Corby

June 03

Triple Treat. Atlantic columnist presents comprehensive introduction to the global slow food movement, captivating photography, and a stewpot of recipes.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Larson, Erik

Dec 03

Monumenal. Brings alive the creation of the World’s Columbian Exposition (the White City) by the architects who made it happen, and unravels how a grizzly serial killer (The Devil) preyed on vulnerable fairgoers.

Starving to Death on $200 Million: The Short, Absurd Life of The Industry Standard

Ledbetter, James

Apr 03

Let it Die. Unless you’re in the publishing business, enjoy Ledbetter’s good writing, or miss the days of the Internet bubble, there’s little reason to spend any time reading this book.

Shutter Island

Lehane, Dennis

July 03

Islands of the Mind. Well-crafted psychological novel that leaves readers wondering about what is appearance and what is reality. Open the shutters of your mind and enjoy.

When the Women Come Out to Dance

Leonard, Elmore

Mar 03

Moves. Leonard presents tightly packed short stories with memorable characters, skillful dialogue, and great imagery.


Lewis, Michael

Sep 03

Facts. Liar’s Poker author examines major league baseball and why the Oakland A’s win so games while spending so little money on players. Great lessons for any business about paying attention to the right performance measures.

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift

Lipman, Elinor

Sep 03

Personality. Romantic, not sloppy story or medical resident, Alice, and her unusual suitor, Ray. Lots of funny scenes and throwaway lines as well as some complicated mother-daughter relationship expectations.

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

Loehr, Jim and Tony Schwartz

Aug 03

Energizing. Most executives have managed the stress part of personal energy management, but often falter in finding the right methods for recovery to regain energy. This book tells stories about what has worked for clients, including athletes.

Churchill: Visionary. Statesman. Historian

Lukacs, John

Feb 03

Forceful. Short, breezy, clear and opinionated historical perspective on three dimensions of the great Winston Churchill. The writing sparkles.

A Close Run Thing

Mallinson, Allan

Sep 03

Charge! Readers who enjoy Patrick O’Brian’s naval fiction set during the Napoleonic wars will enjoy Mallinson’s portrayal of the cavalry.

The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM

Maney, Kevin

Oct 03

Character. Maney presents Watson in many dimensions: self-absorption; ambition; effective leadership; motivation; shady practices; insecurity; over-confidence and pride. Like today’s CEOs.

The Pleasure of My Company

Martin, Steve

Nov 03

Neurotic. Memorable, obsessive-compulsive narrator unveils Everyman beneath the disorder. Creative and interesting, but not as well written as Shopgirl.

Bad Boy Ballmer: The Man Who Rules Microsoft

Maxwell, Frederic Alan

Feb 03

Madman. Many facets of the journey of Steve Ballmer from suburban Detroit to a partnership with Bill Gates that changed the world.

Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work

Maxwell, John C.

May 03

Pastoral. Hundreds of quotes tied together by stories and upbeat, positive thoughts. Ideal for self-help fans; shallow for most of us.

Child of My Heart

McDemott, Alice

Jan 03

Bruised. McDermott uses fine writing in a coming of age story to explore the many ways we humans bruise each other as we try to love and care for someone else.

Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg

McPherson, James M.

Aug 03

Pulitzer Docent. A well-informed compact guide to what happened and where during the battle of Gettysburg. Ideal for pleasure readers.

Liars and Saints

Meloy, Maile

July 03

Family Ties and Lies. Rare for a debut novel to win four-stars. This tale of four generations and the lies that unite them should win awards. Meloy’s writing soars, and we come to know her characters for all their human qualities and frailties.

The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea

Micklethwait, John

June 03

Company Brief. Breezy explanation and history of where companies came from and the consequent benefits to society of this revolutionary structure. Great respite from corporate scandal stories.

The King in the Tree

Millhauser, Steven

Apr 03

Betrayal. Three novels plumb the dimensions of love and betrayal through fine writing, imaginative settings, and characters that reveal themselves with many of the complexities of human nature. Millhauser at his best.

Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

Moore, James and Wayne Slater

Sep 03

Relentless. Political junkies of all stripes will read the vignettes presented about Rove and come away thinking about how much they know and don’t know about this close advisor.

Benjamin Franklin

Morgan, Edmund S.

Mar 03

Statesman Scientist. As Morgan says early on, this is a short biography “meant only to say enough about the man to show that he is worth the trouble.” It’s no trouble at all to turn the pages of this well-written life of Franklin.

Rumpole Rests His Case

Mortimer, John

Jan 03

The End? Could this be the last of the Rumpole books? If so, savor each of the week’s worth of stories in this book, and hope that this is not the end.

Eleanor and Harry: The Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman

Neal, Steve

Apr 03

New Friends. Following FDR’s death, Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt needed each other, and through their letters, and Neal’s light commentary, we see how they used each other, got to know each other, and eventually became friends.

The Boy in the Box

Nelson, Lee J.

Apr 03

Welcome Back Kafka. Schemes and schemers, alienation and strangeness, in a New York City apartment, told with all the charm that Franz Kafka would have used. Read if you’re up for a downer.

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life

Noor, Queen

Aug 03

Personal. If there’s only one memoir you read this year, make it this one. Noor describes her relationship with King Hussein, family life, and politics with an articulate voice helping you learn more than you may expect about the Middle East and about personal, loving relationships.

Mission Compromised

North, Oliver

Jan 03

Do As ISEG. 200 good pages out of 600; just try to find them. Acronyms, slow-moving plot, weak dialogue: all here for your reading distraction.

The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice

O’Connor, Sandra Day

Aug 03

Pedagogic. O’Connor shares her love of the law but reveals little about the inner workings of the court, and tells nothing that would reveal her approach to issues coming before the court. 

Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley

Olmstead, Kathryn S.

Feb 03

Why Spy? Tedious tale of FBI star witness against her former comrades in the 1940s and 1950s, sometimes telling the truth and sometimes lying.

When the Emperor Was Divine

Otsuka, Julie

Feb 03

Injustice. Debut novel takes on Japanese internment during WWII with care and precision capturing the impact on the members of one family at that time. Poetic voice creates lasting images.

Back Story

Parker, Robert B.

Apr 03

Spenser Vintage 2003. Master detective Spenser accepts six Krispy Kremes as payment to work on solving a decades-old murder. Memorable characters, interesting plot and realistic dialogue.

Stone Cold

Parker, Robert B.

Dec 03

Serial. Fourth installment in Jesse Stone mysteries brings serial killers to Paradise, and allows Stone to match wits with smart criminals. Great dialogue, as usual.

Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Compromised America’s National Security

Patterson, Robert

Aug 03

Punt. Air Force officer who carried nuclear “football” for two years in Clinton White House delivers poorly written screed based on personal observations, especially one incident on a golf course in September 1996.

Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11

Posner, Gerald, L.

Dec 03

Infighting. Exploration of twenty years of fumbled investigations and misplaced priorities leads to one conclusion: 9/11 did not need to happen.

The Mushroom Man

Powell, Sophie

May 03

Dreamy Debut. Finely crafted, brief, first novel with enchanting view of a child’s fantasy in Wales, and the adults around her who struggle with intimacy and strained relationships.

The Demon in the Freezer

Preston, Richard

Jan 03

Dark Biology. Before you line up for your smallpox shot, read this book. It’s more likely that a modified smallpox would be used as a weapon, and the vaccine would do no good.

Fly Fishing the 41st: Around the World on the 41st Parallel

Prosek, James

July 03

Hooked. Well-written story of author’s journey around the world, fishing, painting, and writing about these adventures. All readers will enjoy the anecdotes, characters and adventure, whether we fish or not.

That Old Ace in the Hole

Proulx, Annie

June 03

Annie Got Her Gun. No more obtuse prose from Proulx. Funny, satiric, absorbing story. Anti-big business, coming of age, community values.

Better Together: Restoring the American Community

Putnam, Robert D.

Oct 03

Capital. Something to think about and learn from the twelve case studies of how different people are trying to build social capital from branch libraries to schoolchildren leading community change. Read excerpt about how UPS builds social capital.

My Anecdotal Life

Reiner, Carl

June 03

Yuks. Funny and poignant stories from Reiner’s life make readers feel like we’re sitting across the dinner table listening to him relate anecdotes that lead us to laughing or crying with him.

Blackwood Farm

Rice, Anne

Jan 03

How r u gonna keep ‘em? New vampire Tarquin Blackwood narrates this tedious tale to old vampire standby Lestat, who should have killed Quinn to make a long story short. Usual Rice.

Officer Friendly and Other Stories

Robinson, Lewis

Feb 03

Maine Man. Debut collection of stories from Maine writer Lewis Robinson reveals great talent. Lovers of short stories shouldn’t overlook this writer.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Rowling, J.K.

Aug 03

Growing Up. Finest installment in the series so far. Adolescent Harry behaves erratically, and even Dumbledore appears vulnerable. The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher brings bureaucracy to Hogwarts.

This Just In: What I Couldn’t Tell You on TV

Schieffer, Bob

July 03

Conversational. CBS reporter tells engaging stories about his work and life that will leave readers with many good feelings, and lots of good laughs.


Scott, Anne

Oct 03

Imagery. Debut novel of estate agent trying to sell the belongings and creations of an artist, the late owner of Villa Calpurnia, a Main Line Philadelphia 19th century stone home. From many perspectives, we get to learn about the late artist and her art.

The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune

Scott, Willard

Aug 03

Yadda. Occasionally pithy, sometimes inspirational, but usually  vapid and monotonous comments from old people, some famous, some not. Read it and some away older, not necessarily wiser.

The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune: The Joys of Reaching a Certain Age

Scott, Willard

Aug 03

Yadda. After reading this, you’ll be older, but not necessarily wiser. Collection of vapid comments from famous and not-so-famous people.

Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938

Scotti, R. A.

Nov 03

Stormy. Not a print version of the Weather Channel, but a captivating and riveting story of places and people who faced an amazing storm that caught New Englanders by surprise.

Changing the Rules: Adventures of a Wall Street Maverick

Siebert, Muriel

Mar 03

Mickie’s Moves. Entertaining chronicle of how the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange did it, and how she’s since vanquished many of her adversaries.

The Wal-Mart Decade: How a Generation of Leaders Turned Sam Walton's Legacy Into the World's # 1 Company

Slater, Robert

Oct 03

Rollback. Pleasant story about unassuming and talented executives who built a gigantic and successful business. Some repetition and a few dozen really boring pages.

Good Faith

Smiley, Jane

June 03

Real Estate. Smiley immerses readers into the real estate boom of the 1980s and the S&L debacle through a tale of the faith we place in others and where than can lead us.

Bronzeville: Black Chicago in Pictures, 1941-1943

Stange, Maven

Aug 03

Compelling. Rarely seen photos document the impact of rural migration to Chicago, and the creation of “the black capital of America” on the South Side. 

A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America

Steinfels, Peter

Dec 03

Turbulence. A readable and insightful exploration of recent decades of change for the Catholic Church, the impact of the sexual abuse scandals, and what’s likely to happen next.

Bay of Souls

Stone, Robert

May 03

Doo Voo. Superb writing wasted on weak characters. Rural Minnesota professor’s affair with stereotyped seductress from Caribbean island leads him into spirit world to neither find nor lose his soul, but change his life.

Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron

Swartz, Mimi and Sherron Watkins

June 03

Living Large. Hubris, office politics, chaos, greed. At some point, we’ll tire of the Enron rehashing, but Watkins’ involvement in this one caught our attention, and lead to pleasure in reading the horrid tale.

Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

Swofford, Anthony

May 03

Unscrewed. Talented writer and former Marine sniper presents poetic images of life, fear, despair and exhilaration as a Marine interspersed with the salty tongue used by one Marine to another.

Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed, and the Fall of Arthur Andersen

Toffler, Barbara Ley

July 03

Assimilated. Business ethics professor joins Andersen, becomes assimilated by their culture, and compromises her values. Great inside view of Andersen, and thought provoking about whether we share the values of those with whom we work.

Final Witness

Tolkien, Simon

Mar 03

Inheritance. Yes, J.R.R. Tolkien’s grandson can write. Come to the Old Bailey and find a trial, an interesting set of characters, well-crafted plot and good dialogue.

Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties from Kansas City to Cuzco

Trillin, Calvin

July 03

Yummy. When Trillin writes about food, readers want to both read and eat. When you can’t find a food you love and miss, add it to your own “Register or Frustration and Deprivation” or go to the place where you can feed your yen.

Murder at Ford’s Theatre

Truman, Margaret

Jan 03

Curtains. Unless you’re a lover of Washington, DC or a reader or prior Truman mysteries set there, there’s no reason to read this book.

Reversible Errors

Turow, Scott

Jan 03

Paradise Lost and Regained. Turow’s best novel yet tackles death penalty errors, love, loss, human nature and redemption. Lawyers, judges, criminals, and other readers will love this book.

Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty

Turow, Scott

Dec 03

Evolution. Novelist and lawyer shares his real life struggle over his position on the death penalty. Read and watch your thinking evolve with his.

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

Von Drehle, David

Nov 03

Burning. Absorbing combination of three stories: immigrant working conditions in NYC; a devastating factory fire; the political shift to the left laying a foundation for the New Deal. Read and see if you agree that a single event can lead to dramatic social changes.

Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship

Wadell, Paul

May 03

You’ve Got a Friend. Gifted teacher Wadell has been writing about friendship since his doctoral dissertation. Latest offering is animated, engaging, and expands our understanding of what it is to be and to have a friend.

Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth

Walker, Alice

Apr 03

Comforting. New poems, many of which reveal the meanings of house and home, creating a special place for readers to spend some time in refuge and in pleasure.


Watson, Larry

Oct 03

Artistic Vision. Must one understand an enigma in order to portray it to others? Well-crafted novel presents complicated relationship between artist and model, and their respective spouses. Intimacy and alienation co-exist.

What Color is a Conservative? My Life and My Politics

Watts, J.C.

Feb 03

Preacher. Sermonizing biography of this former congressman. He’s who he is because of how his parents raised him in a small Oklahoma town. First hundred of 275 pages brings us through high school.

The Courage to be Catholic: Crisis, Reform and the Future of the Church

Weigel, George

Mar 03

Fiddling with Fidelity. Weigel’s clear cut and direct solution to the current crises in the Catholic Church: return to the faithfulness you never had.

The Devil Wears Prada

Weisberger, Lauren

Sep 03

Role Models. Odd novel of the relationship between the boss from hell and a naïve and submissive assistant in a job a million women would die for. Some funny parts, then pathos, then ennui. Unappealing characters.

Born to Steal: When the Mafia Hit Wall Street

Weiss, Gary

Sep 03

Unwise Guys. Business Week reporter uses the life of Louis Pasciuto to describe some ways that the Mafia operates on Wall Street. Meet unsavory characters doing bad things.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wicker, Tom

Mar 03

Like Ike Lite. Think of this book as Ike Lite. Chug it down and move on. Lovers of stout should read something else.

Heavenly Days

Wilcox, James

Dec 03

Charm. Life in Tula Springs presents encounters with real characters and some prolonged chuckling at their relationship foibles. Some serious brushes with racial and religious tolerance.







Key to Ratings:



Outstanding book-read it now



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