Behind the Bestsellers
Daisy Maryles -- 1/22/01

'First' (the Third) Is Fourth | No Abandoning This Ship | 'Daylight' Dawns

'First' (the Third) Is FourthTranslation: Brad Meltzer's third suspense yarn, The First Counsel, grabs our #4 fiction spot in its first full week of sales. (The author's first two novels, 1997's The Tenth Justice and 1998's Dead Even, enjoyed 10-week and four-week runs, respectively, on PW's charts.) Warner's 185,000 first printing of Meltzer's latest--described as "lightning-paced" by PW--has been accompanied by a substantial promotional campaign. National TV coverage has included The Edge with Paula Zahn, Extra, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor and Court TV's Crier Today; an appearance on CBS's The Early Show is set for early next month. Interviews have been featured on and, and Meltzer has done numerous radio interviews, both local and national. A New York Times feature interview is in the works; additional print coverage has run in Washingtonian magazine, the Washington Times, USA Weekend and People. Film rights have been purchased by Fox 2000 and foreign rights have been sold in 11 countries. (P.S.: As this column went to press, The First Counsel ranked a lucky #13 at

No Abandoning This ShipHere's a book whose history is nearly as dramatic as the story it relates. Abandon Ship! The Death of the U.S.S. Indianapolis (debuting at #14 on our nonfiction list) chronicles the greatest
naval disaster in American history: the July 30, 1945, bombing of the heavy cruiser Indianapolis, a tragedy that was survived by only 316 of the 1,200 men aboard the vessel. Captain Charles McVay was court-martialed for actions allegedly contributing to the loss of his ship; he committed suicide in 1968. (For more on this horrific incident, see Book News, Jan. 1.) In 1958, Henry Holt published Richard F. Newcomb's Abandon Ship, which spent some four months on national bestseller lists. Fast forward to late last year, when HarperCollins reissued the book (copies in print: 105,000 after four printings), due in large part to the efforts of bestselling author Peter Maas. The current buzz about this saga--of both book and ship--has been intense, and HC's promotional efforts read like a publicity maven's Baedeker. Newcomb, now 88, is embarking on a six-city tour; Liz Smith has touted the story in her nationally syndicated column; it's been a cover piece in Parade magazine; book and author were featured in USA Today, on Imus and NPR's All Things Considered. All that, plus TV and more TV, radio and more radio, signings and more signings. Clearly, this ship still sails.

'Daylight' DawnsOur other new arrival on this week's nonfiction list also has its roots in American history, albeit of a slightly earlier vintage. In An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood,
former President Jimmy Carter shares "sometimes random recollections" of life before the White House. Published by Simon & Schuster on January 15, An Hour Before Daylight is Carter's third book; his Living Faith (1996) and Sources of Strength (1997) spent six weeks and four weeks, respectively, on our charts. Not surprisingly, the popular prez has been much in demand by the media--already under his belt are Live with Regis, an interview with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, PBS's Lehrer News Hour and NPR's Diane Riehm. Still on the docket are The Tonight Show, Tavis Smiley on BET, NPR's Marketplace and more. The indefatigable Carter has already covered five of the nine cities on his tour; according to S&S publicity director Aileen Boyle, "It's been spectacular--he's had between 1,200 and 2,000+ at every stop." She notes that the book's first printing of 200,000 has just been supplemented with an additional 25,000 copies.
With reporting by Dick Donahue