Archive for the ‘1967 Bestselling Novels’ Category

Topaz is a political thriller on a hot topic of the sixties: Russia’s attempt to put missiles in Cuba.Military dress hat and gloves adorn Topaz dust jacket of Topaz

As a dictator threatens the US with nuclear attack and the US investigates the Russians’ disinformation tactics in the 2016 election, Topaz seems timely again.

Topaz by Leon Uris
McGraw-Hill, [1967] 341 p. 1964 bestseller #4. My grade: B.

Leon Uris weaves a story that involves people at the highest levels of the diplomatic services in America, France, and Russia, including a fictionalized John F. Kennedy-like character.

The story begins when a KGB agent seeking to defect contacts Americans secret service agents in Copenhagen.

The US gives Brois Kuznetov and his family asylum.

Kuznetov insists André Devereaux, head of the French secret service in Washington, be present when he is interrogated.

Kuznetov revels he ran a secret department, code name Topaz, that specialized in disinformation.

Topaz accomplished much of its highly successful effort to mislead America by leaking information to their French allies who passed it on. The KGB’s work reached to office of the French president.

Characters interest Uris more than events: He makes opportunities to tell of their lives years prior to the story’s start.

His biographical sketches make his characters believably ordinary, despite their important political roles.

And political victories take a back seat to friendships.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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collage of photos of Hasidic Jews, a baseball glove, broken glasses.

The Chosen begins with Hasidic Jews, baseball, and broken glasses.

Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen opens with a baseball game between two Jewish parochial schools.

The Hasidic school’s best player is Danny Saunders. Reuven Malter leads the orthodox school’s team, which the Hasidim consider as bad as Christians.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok
© 1967. Book Club Edition, 284 pp. 1967 bestseller #3. My grade: A.

Danny slams back one of Reuven’s pitches, sending shards of his glasses into his eye.

Later Danny comes to the hospital to apologize.

Reuven is smart, Danny, with his photographic memory, is brilliant. A friendship springs up between the boys who have no intellectual peers in their schools.

Through the boys’ friendship, Potok takes readers deep into the orthodox scene.

Reuven is very close to his scholarly father. He finds Rabbi Saunders’s refusal to speak to Danny on any topic other than the Talmud appalling.

Danny is hurt by the silent treatment, but loves and respects his father.

As the boys begin college, the question arises: What will happen if they want different careers than their fathers have chosen for them?

In Potok’s deceptively straightforward narrative, it’s easy to miss details that reveal motives deeply rooted in the two faith communities. Some readers will need to read the novel twice to grasp the faith context.

Others may read The Chosen twice because it’s worth reading more than once.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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In August, 1831, a few dozen slaves in Southampton, Virginia, revolted, slaughtering whites mercilessly.

The confession of the revolt’s leader, Nathaniel Turner, presented at his trial and subsequently published as a pamphlet, is the factual basis of William Styron’s novel.

The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
Random House, 1966, 1967; 428 p. 1967 bestseller #2. My grade: A.

sketch shows Nat being captured by white man

Nat Turner’s capture.

Nat’s mother was a cook, so Nat became a “house nigger.” The Turner family taught him to read and figure, gave him carpentry training, bought a Bible, and promised he’d be given his freedom at age 25.

By the time Nat was 25, faced with dwindling income from over-worked land, Turner family had sold all their possessions—including Nat—and left Virginia for good.

Nat’s freedom disappeared with Marse Samuel.

Nat’s Bible reading and his ache for companionship with like-minded people, gradually twist into the conviction that God wants him to lead a slave rebellion.

Styron avoids the familiar clichés of slave novels. Characters, both black and white, are victims of conditions they can’t control. The worst physical and mental suffering among blacks and whites occur among those least affluent even at the best of times.

Styron’s tale could easily be moved to Baltimore or St. Louis in 2015.

His novel is a wrenching reminder that how we treat individuals matters more than our opinions about race.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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The Arrangement is The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit without any clothes on.

Elia Kazan’s story gets off to a fast and sordid start.

The Arrangement: A Novel by Elia Kazan
Stein and Day, 1967, 544 p. My grade: C+.

car hit by tractor-trailer truck

Who does this deliberately?

“Indispensible Eddie” Anderson, an advertising executive (also known as Evans Arness, muckraking magazine writer, and as Evangelos Arness, son of a bankrupt Greek rug merchant) is having an affair from a girl from his office, Gwen Hunt.

Helped by a psychiatrist, wife Florence has learned to not notice Eddie’s profligacy.

Eddie leaves nude photographs of himself and Gwen where they’ll be found and brought to Florence’s attention.

Florence convinces Eddie to try to repair their marriage.

Some months into the reconciliation, Eddie drives his car into the side of a trailer truck.

While Eddie’s body heals, his mind gets increasingly unbalanced.

He ends up in a mental institution.

When he’s released, Eddie moves in with Gwen. They both work part time at a rural Connecticut liquor store. Eddie starts writing to clear his mind, moves on to writing short stories.

Eddie and Gwen are repellent characters. They don’t grow up; they just grow tired.

In the end, Eddie wonders if all the drama was necessary.

I wonder too.

Is writing fiction more noble than telling stories about consumer products?

©2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Hold on to your dust jackets.

screen shot folders of book reviewsWe’ve just finished the 1927 bestsellers and now we’re going jump ahead 40 years to tackle the 1967 bestselling novels.

I’ve previously reviewed the bestsellers of 1937, 1947 and 1957 here at GreatPenformances. (The lists and links to the reviews are on the bestsellers 1930-1969 page accessible from the tab at the top of the page.)

I’m sure you’ll spot names of authors  on the 1967 list whom you’ve seen on other years’ bestseller lists. And there are some titles which are probably more familiar to us from movies and television than as books.

Here’s the list of the 1967 bestsellers and the dates on which you can expect to see my review posted:

  1. The Arrangement by Elia Kazan [May 13, 2017]
  2. The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron [May 16, 2017]
  3. The Chosen by Chaim Potok [May 20, 2017]
  4. Topaz by Leon Uris [May 23, 2017]
  5. Christy by Catherine Marshall [May 27, 2017]
  6. The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder [May 30, 2017]
  7. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin [June 3, 2017]
  8. The Plot by Irving Wallace [June 6, 2017]
  9. The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart [June 10, 2017]
  10. The Exhibitionist by Henry Sutton [June 13, 2017]

The reader poll will be posted on June 17 and my picks on June 20.

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Here are the bestselling novels of 1966 that I’ll be reviewing in the next few weeks and the date on which you can expect to see the review posted here.

You’ll notice that none of the titles was held over from 1965.

women's faces replace continents on world map on Adventurers dust jacket

Red type, black dingbats are only art on cover of All in the Family

Capable of Honor uses all-type dust jacket, red type on black ground

  1. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann [Jan. 2, 2016]
  2.  The Adventurers by Harold Robbins [Jan. 5, 2016]
  3. The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton [Jan. 9, 2016]
  4. Capable of Honor by Allen Drury  [Jan. 12, 2016]
  5. The Double Image by Helen MacInnes [Jan. 16, 2016]
  6. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud [Jan. 19, 2016]
  7. Tell No Man by Adela Rogers St. Johns [Jan. 23, 2016]
  8. Tai-Pan by James Clavell [Jan. 26, 2016]
  9. The Embezzler by Louis Auchincloss [Jan. 30, 2016]
  10. All in the Family by Edwin O’Connor [Feb. 2, 2016]

words The Double Image shown as mirror image1966-06_fixerEmbezzler dust jacket has title in red against stock market page of newspaper

On February 6, I’ll give you a chance to say which 1966 bestsellers you prefer.

For folks who only want only the best of the bestsellers, on February 9 I’ll tell you which 1966 bestsellers made my shortlist.

That’s what’s immediately ahead.

© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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