Michael Korda is destined to get many pats on the back from his literary buddies for this book and why not? He whines about how things aren't what they used to be. He shovels dirt on the works of the "big book" writers like Clancy, King and Grisham. And throws in just enough French phrases to earn admission to any cocktail party he wants.
All this book is, in sum, is this: Korda lists books in paragrah form then does it again in list form.
This is meant as a cultural history of what books Americans bought throughout the century, but it really is a brief history.
These pages would have been better served had he spent more time analyzing why we read what we read. Rather, he says in effect, "We are in World War II, so there are a lot of war books on the market."
And the 1980s was filled with "get-rich-quick books" that Korda said were popular among top executives but did nothing for "underlings" to rise to the top. Wouldn't he surmise that because these books were in fact bestsellers (read by millions of people), that maybe some "underling" read one and made it big. Of course not because Korda whole-heartedly admitted early on that editors and writers are liberally biased.
In reality, Korda spent 200 pages waiting to throw in the comment that, "In 1981, I was the editor of four of the year's bestsellers (not a record -- I believe the record is seven, which I think I hold -- but still not bad)." If Korda is such a reknowned editor, why is he using phrases like, "I think," which he does more than once. Why not check it out?
Overall, I enjoyed looking over the lists but grew tired of Korda's commentary on how no real literature is out there. Although the structure of the book business has changed, the same market principles are still place: If you have a product people want, it will sell.