Amazon worldwide bestseller tables: history

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Two of the great historical issues of the past half-century continue to exert a tug on many of those who believe that only by understanding the past can mankind hope to build a better future: how America came to be what it is today and how the Holocaust and the creation of Israel helped to redraw the landscape of the modern Middle East.

1. Night. By Elie Wiesel. Hill and Wang; 144 pages; $6.30 Penguin; £6.39. A terrifying account of the horror of a Nazi death camp where a young Jewish boy witnesses the loss of his family, his innocence and his god.

2. 1776. By David McCullough. Simon & Schuster; 400 pages; $18.51.Penguin/Allen Lane; £17.50. How George Washington and his brave rebels so nearly lost their revolutionary war against the British.

3. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. By Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 496 pages; $16.50. Penguin/Allen Lane; £14. How globalisation has made the world smaller rather than flatter, by the winner of the first FT/Goldman Sachs business book of the year award.

4. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. By Doris Kearns Goodwin. Simon & Schuster; 944 pages; $21. Abraham Lincoln, as seen through the eyes of his key cabinet colleagues, many of whom were opponents during the Republican nomination of 1860.

5. State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. By James Risen. Free Press; 256 pages; $15.60. Simon & Schuster; £13.29. An anecdotal history of American intelligence since September 11th 2001 and how the Bush administration justified its off-the-books domestic spying programme.

6. The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq. By George Packer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 480 pages; $17.16.Faber and Faber; £7.49.How the campaign to make Iraq a better place was ill-planned and badly executed.

7. At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68. By Taylor Branch. Simon and Schuster; 1,056 pages; $23.10.Drama and social history in the last volume of the life and times of Martin Luther King.

8. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. By Sam Harris; Norton; 224 pages; $11.16.Free Press; £3.99. Why many people continue to believe in the promise of paradise to believers and damnation to all others and why they are wrong.

9. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. By Jared Diamond. Norton; 480 pages; $11.18. Vintage; £8.99.How the environment affected the rise and fall of different human civilisations.

10. Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team. By George Jonas. Simon & Schuster; 416 pages; $10.20. Perennial; £3.99. Five Israelis hunted down and killed those responsible for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics of 1972 and paid a terrible price.

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