What to Read Now
I really enjoyed your article about 50 books that "make sense of our times." I love reading—I have been given a treasure chest of material. Thank you, NEWSWEEK.
Kermita Thornton, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Bravo on devoting an issue to books that help shape the zeitgeist. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an original issue that not only featured great books but went a step beyond listing the usual, clichéd "Best Books Ever" (though the exclusion of Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind is inexcusable). The issue made a dent in the critical task of gaining some perspective on—and distance from—the blistering pace of our times.
David Storey, Bronx, N.Y.
Is it possible that only 10 of the 50 greatest books were written by women? And is it possible that the only woman worth a "reread" is Jane Austen? I don't think so.
Judy Bamberger, Woodland Hills, Calif.
The Meaning of Michael
Michael Jackson was a kindhearted, sometimes lonely person who was all about love, no matter how much he was pursued by the paparazzi or ridiculed and exploited in the media.
Reinet Loubser, Vienna, Austria
The article on Michael Jackson's death was insensitive to readers who loved Michael for his music, his showmanship, his endless pursuit of excellence, and his generosity to fans and charity. Your tone was not in keeping with the sadness and shock that I felt at losing Michael so young.
Yolanda McNair, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The media has gone way, way overboard on its 24/7 coverage of celebrity death. However, I found this article to be written with a smug superiority and unsympathetic stance about a human being who was a tortured soul. He was trying to find love and acceptance, but didn't have the foundation to recognize false from true.
Sally Miller, Racine, Wis.
The Wall Isn't Falling
"The three most powerful forces in the modern world are democracy, religion, and nationalism," writes Fareed Zakaria. Were democracy such a pervasive influence, the Shah of Iran would never have been installed in 1953. Were democracy a true force, it would have a normalizing effect today; all political paths would lead to it. Iranians voted in good faith—and yet, while the promise of future political change is manifest, it is chronically denied.
Karl Aune, Niles, Mich.
Fareed Zakaria argues that Iran is not like Eastern Europe circa 1989 because in Eastern Europe a desire for democracy, religious faith, and nationalism were all aligned against the regimes in power. In Iran, he argues, nationalism and religious faith strengthen the regime. A more apt comparison would be the French Revolution of 1789. The clergy supported the reign of Louis XVI, and the people were trying to overthrow their own government, not a foreign power. However, the French Revolution started because of widespread poverty, and democracy was seen as a means to an end, not the end itself.
Hershal Patel, Los Altos, Calif.
Correction: In "Best. Books. Ever." we referred to The Scarpetta Factor as Patricia Cornwell's most recent bestseller. In fact, it is scheduled for release in October.