A Book of Madness: The $149 paperback bestseller
Benjamin Nugent, in his Slate review of Allen Frances’s Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life and Gary Greenberg’s The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry, compared the two psychiatrists to Melville’s Ahab and Ishmael (respectively) and described their relationship as “a tortured intellectual bromance.” Ahab, of course, risked life and his three remaining limbs to take down his archenemy. Ishmael, as Nugent points out, “play[ed] the bemused”—albeit concerned—“outsider.” Sounds like a bizarre analogy, but it’s pretty apt: Frances was the chairperson of the committee tasked with putting together the fourth iteration of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Often referred to as the Bible of American psychiatry, it’s used to help doctors diagnose patients, standardize insurance billing codes, and essentially define what’s normal. Or, more accurately: what isn’t normal. That book came out in 1994. The newest version, the DSM-5, was published last week. To put it bluntly and very briefly: Frances, who wasn’t involved this go-around, is none too pleased about how his baby is growing up. Neither is Greenberg, and neither are a whole lot of other folks. Many feel the diagnostic criteria put down in the DSM is too free and loose, too susceptible to the allure of Big Pharma’s deep pockets. Just a few weeks ago, Thomas R. Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, announced that his organization would be “re-orienting its research away from DSM [diagnostic] categories.” That’s like Captains Bildad and Peleg calling the Peqoud back to Nantucket.
But alas, the white whale has surfaced, and boatloads of psychiatrists have rushed in to get a piece: the DSM-5 debuts at #6 on our Trade Paper Nonfiction list—and that’s at a price of $149. (Though that only amounts to about an hour on the couch, right?) —Samuel R. Slaton
Storm Coming: Another from the mysterious Richard Castle
Storm Front, Richard Castle’s first full-length thriller featuring CIA agent Derrick Storm, debuts at #12 on the Hardcover Fiction list. From Tokyo to London to Johannesburg, high-level bankers are being tortured and murdered. The killer, caught in a fleeting glimpse on a surveillance camera, is Gregor Volkov, Storm’s old nemesis. Desperate to figure out who Volkov is working for and why, the CIA turn to Storm as the man they can count on to stop him. Storm gets on a trail that leads from Paris to the lair of a computer genius in Iowa to the streets of Manhattan, and climaxes in a bullet-riddled car chase on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Castle, played by Canadian actor Nathan Fillion on the ABC-TV show Castle, is a mystery novelist who helps the NYPD solve crimes. He is also the author of Frozen Heat and three other novels featuring Nikki Heat, an NYPD detective. Who actually writes the Richard Castle books remains a mystery.
For prepublication, there were six weekly chapter downloads on ABC.com. The book has also been promoted on Richard Castle and Hyperion social media channels as well as featured on RichardCastle.net. Storm Front follows three Derrick Storm e-book shorts: A Raging Storm; A Bloody Storm; and A Brewing Storm. All three are available in one volume as a digital audio download: Storm Surge. —Peter Cannon
Classic Reporting on America’s New Reality: George Packer on three decades of American decline
Veteran journalist George Packer’s latest book, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which enters the Hardcover Nonfiction list at #22, has reviewers reaching for especially super superlatives. Hector Tobar compares Packer to Dickens in the Los Angeles Times. Dwight Garner, writing in the New York Times, cites Steinbeck. In our starred review, which ran in March, we singled out Packer’s “keen eye for the big story in the small moment,” noting that he “writ[es] about our fraying social fabric with talent that matches his dismay.”
The Unwinding charts the last three decades of American socioeconomic and political decline via the personal histories of an Ohio factory worker, a Washington political operative, a small business owner, and an Internet billionaire, with plenty of beautifully written commentary on major headlines and notable figures. As Packer, a staff writer for the New Yorker, explained to PW in March: “I needed to use the tools of a novelist, not a policy analyst... the voices in the book are famous and obscure, but the story is really one of individuals improvising a way forward amid an institutional breakdown.” Proving that there’s an audience for serious summer reading, Packer has already appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NPR’s Weekend Edition, and MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner. Packer launched the book on May 22 at Barnes & Noble’s Union Square location in a conversation with Brooke Gladstone. In June, his promotional tour will take him to Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., A Capella Books in Atlanta, Ga., Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Fla., and a host of other cities, and he’ll be back on the air on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and other programs. Expect to see excerpts from the book on Slate and the Huffington Post.—Jessamine Chan
Zen and the Art of Winning Games: Phil Jackson spreads the wisdom
Eleven Rings, the eighth book from basketball guru and “Zen master” Phil Jackson, debuts in the #2 spot on this week’s Nonfiction Hardcover list. Co-written with Hugh Delehanty, this meditation on Jackson’s career and basketball philosophy has already stirred up controversy among the list-crazed sports media. Jackson dishes on many player/coach relationships, particularly his times with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, comparing the superstars as players and leaders—he sides with Jordan on both accounts.
Jackson started a Twitter account to promote the book and has been making the TV rounds, appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Charlie Rose, and during TNT’s coverage of the NBA playoffs in an interview with Rachel Nichols. Beyond anecdotes and analysis of his tenure as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson delves into the origins of his coaching philosophy and the timely sequences that led to his meteoric rise. In his interview with Charlie Rose he spoke about his first NBA job in the late ’80s: “It was a secondary education basically. I went to graduate school in basketball when I first started coaching with the Bulls.” Under the tutelage of Tex Winter and Johnny Bach, Jackson (for the first time) became a student of the technical side of the game and lapped up the basketball literature of the time. With his place as the modern game’s largest proponent of Winter’s triangle offense,, Jackson has cemented himself into basketball legend.
And Jackson may not be done. With constant whisperings about a return to New York, where he played as a player, or a move back to the West Coast, either to the Lakers or a prospective Seattle franchise, the basketball community still craves Jackson’s placid demeanor courtside.—Seth Satterlee