2012′s Bestselling African American Books

Here’s a list of 2012′s bestselling African American books from Amazon.com as of September 2012.

  1. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    (New Press, The, 2012-01-16, Paperback)
    The New Jim Crow was initially published with a modest first printing and reasonable expectations for a hard-hitting book on a tough topic. Now, ten-plus printings later, the long-awaited paperback version of the book Lani Guinier calls “brave and bold,” and Pulitzer Prize–winner David Levering Lewis calls “stunning,” will at last be available.In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal.
    Featured on The Tavis Smiley Show, Bill Moyers Journal, Democracy Now, and C-Span’s Washington Journal, The New Jim Crow has become an overnight phenomenon, sparking a much-needed conversation—including a recent mention by Cornel West on Real Time with Bill Maher — about ways in which our system of mass incarceration has come to resemble systems of racial control from a different era.

     

  2. Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson
    (Little, Brown and Company, 2012-11-12, Hardcover)
    It’s Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who’s robbing his church’s poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again–a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything–and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days. Alex Cross is a hero for our time, and never more so than in this story of family, action, and the deepest moral choices.

     

  3. The Cutting Season: A Novel by Attica Locke
    (Harper, 2012-09-18, Hardcover)
    In Black Water Rising, Attica Locke delivered one of the most stunning and sure-handed fiction debuts in recent memory, garnering effusive critical praise, several award nominations, and passionate reader response. Now Locke returns with The Cutting Season, a riveting thriller that intertwines two murders separated across more than a century. Caren Gray manages Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation that sits between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where the past and the present coexist uneasily. The estate’s owners have turned the place into an eerie tourist attraction, complete with full-dress re-enactments and carefully restored slave quarters. Outside the gates, a corporation with ambitious plans has been busy snapping up land from struggling families who have been growing sugar cane for generations, and now replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when the body of a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the edge of the property, her throat cut clean. As the investigation gets under way, the list of suspects grows. But when fresh evidence comes to light and the sheriff’s department zeros in on a person of interest, Caren has a bad feeling that the police are chasing the wrong leads. Putting herself at risk, she ventures into dangerous territory as she unearths startling new facts about a very old mystery—the long-ago disappearance of a former slave—that has unsettling ties to the current murder. In pursuit of the truth about Belle Vie’s history and her own, Caren discovers secrets about both cases—ones that an increasingly desperate killer will stop at nothing to keep buried. Taut, hauntingly resonant, and beautifully written, The Cutting Season is at once a thoughtful meditation on how America reckons its past with its future, and a high-octane page-turner that unfolds with tremendous skill and vision. With her rare gift for depicting human nature in all its complexities, Attica Locke demonstrates once again that she is “destined for literary stardom” (Dallas Morning News).

     

  4. The Communist by Paul Kengor
    (Mercury Ink, 2012-07-17, Hardcover)
    In his memoir, Barack Obama omits the full name of his mentor, simply calling him “Frank.” Now, the truth is out: Never has a figure as deeply troubling and controversial as Frank Marshall Davis had such an impact on the development of an American president. Although other radical influences on Obama, from Jeremiah Wright to Bill Ayers, have been scrutinized, the public knows little about Davis, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA, cited by the Associated Press as an “important influence” on Obama, one whom he “looked to” not merely for “advice on living” but as a “father” figure. While the Left has willingly dismissed Davis (with good reason), here are the indisputable, eye-opening facts: Frank Marshall Davis was a pro-Soviet, pro–Red China communist. His Communist Party USA card number, revealed in FBI files, was CP #47544. He was a prototype of the loyal Soviet patriot, so radical that the FBI placed him on the federal government’s Security Index. In the early 1950s, Davis opposed U.S. attempts to slow Stalin and Mao. He favored Red Army takeovers of Central and Eastern Europe, and communist control in Korea and Vietnam. Dutifully serving the cause, he edited and wrote for communist newspapers in both Chicago and Honolulu, courting contributors who were Soviet agents. In the 1970s, amid this dangerous political theater, Frank Marshall Davis came into Barack Obama’s life. Aided by access to explosive declassified FBI files, Soviet archives, and Davis’s original newspaper columns, Paul Kengor explores how Obama sought out Davis and how Davis found in Obama an impressionable young man, one susceptible to Davis’s worldview that opposed American policy and traditional values while praising communist regimes. Kengor sees remnants of this worldview in Obama’s early life and even, ultimately, his presidency.

     

  5. Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson
    (Random House, 2012-06-26, Hardcover)
    It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations. 
    Yes, Chef chronicles Marcus Samuelsson’s remarkable journey from Helga’s humble kitchen to some of the most demanding and cutthroat restaurants in Switzerland and France, from his grueling stints on cruise ships to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a coveted New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. But Samuelsson’s career of  “chasing flavors,” as he calls it, had only just begun—in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs and, most important, the opening of the beloved Red Rooster in Harlem. At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fufilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents and prime ministers rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, bus drivers, and nurses. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home.  
    With disarming honesty and intimacy, Samuelsson also opens up about his failures—the price of ambition, in human terms—and recounts his emotional journey, as a grown man, to meet the father he never knew. Yes, Chef is a tale of personal discovery, unshakable determination, and the passionate, playful pursuit of flavors—one man’s struggle to find a place for himself in the kitchen, and in the world.

     

  6. It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell
    (Harper, 2012-05-22, Hardcover)
    It Worked for Me is filled with vivid experiences and lessons learned that have shaped the legendary public service career of the four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. At its heart are Powell’s “Thirteen Rules”—notes he gathered over the years and that now form the basis of his leadership presentations given throughout the world. Powell’s short but sweet rules—among them, “Get mad, then get over it” and “Share credit”—are illustrated by revealing personal stories that introduce and expand upon his principles for effective leadership: conviction, hard work, and, above all, respect for others. In work and in life, Powell writes, “it’s about how we touch and are touched by the people we meet. It’s all about the people.” A natural storyteller, Powell offers warm and engaging parables with wise advice on succeeding in the workplace and beyond. “Trust your people,” he counsels as he delegates presidential briefing responsibilities to two junior State Department desk officers. “Do your best—someone is watching,” he advises those just starting out, recalling his own teenage summer job mopping floors in a soda-bottling factory. Powell combines the insights he has gained serving in the top ranks of the military and in four presidential administrations with the lessons he’s learned from his immigrant-family upbringing in the Bronx, his training in the ROTC, and his growth as an Army officer. The result is a powerful portrait of a leader who is reflective, self-effacing, and grateful for the contributions of everyone he works with. Colin Powell’s It Worked for Me is bound to inspire, move, and surprise readers. Thoughtful and revealing, it is a brilliant and original blueprint for leadership.

     

  7. Trouble & Triumph: A Novel of Power & Beauty by Tip “T.I.” Harris
    (William Morrow, 2012-09-18, Hardcover)
    Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist, music producer, and actor T.I. and his bestselling celebrity collaborator, David Ritz, continue the explosive story of Power and Beauty that began in the street-lit epic Power & Beauty. When his mother, Charlotte, was killed, Paul “Power” Clay and his closest friend, Tanya “Beauty” Long, fell under the spell of a savvy and ruthless Atlanta businessman named Slim, who promised to protect them. Wise beyond her years, Beauty always knew that the only person she could rely on was herself. It didn’t take long for the levelheaded young woman to recognize the simmering violence beneath Slim’s street charm. But getting away from him wasn’t easy, and it came at a heartbreaking price: turning her back on Power. Escaping to the glamorous catwalks of the Big Apple, she’s worked her breathtaking good looks and quick wit to build a thriving fashion business. Despite her success, she’s still haunted by the pain of leaving Power behind. Money and new men cannot erase the memory of the true love she denied. To Power, Slim’s world held everything he thought he wanted: women, wealth, power, authority. He discovered too late that Slim Simmons isn’t just a businessman—he’s a ruthless killer who will turn on anyone he thinks is getting in his way. He is the monster who murdered Charlotte. Now, he controls the fate of her only son. But neither Slim nor Power count on Beauty. Like Slim, she is a master who will manipulate, seduce, and sacrifice to get what she wants. She’s never let anything stop her from fulfilling her desires, and she will broker a dangerous bargain to save the only man she’s ever loved. But is saving Power worth sacrificing herself—body and soul? Will his youthful ambitions lead him to redemption—or deeper into the darkness? Will they both become everything they swore they’d never be? A tale of gangstas and sistas, money masters and politicians, that moves across the globe from Paris to New York, Atlanta to Tokyo, the Caribbean to California, Trouble & Triumph is a hip-hop mash-up of loyalty, betrayal, revenge, desire, greed, family, politics, and absolution—and of two unforgettable young star-crossed lovers from the streets who will risk everything for their dreams . . . and for each other.

     

  8. Salvage the Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
    (Bloomsbury USA, 2012-04-24, Paperback)
    Winner of the 2011 National Book Award A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn’t show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting.As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.

     

  9. The Cartel 4 by Ashley and JaQuavis
    (Kensington, 2012-11-01, Paperback)
    [MP3CD audiobook format in vinyl case.] [Read by Cary Hite] New York Times bestselling authors Ashley and JaQuavis deliver the highly anticipated fourth installment of the wildly popular ‘Cartel’ series. You thought the Cartel was over, but Diamonds are forever . . . The Diamond family has survived murder, deceit, and betrayal. Through it all, they’re still standing tall, and a new era has begun. After surviving an attempt on her life, Breeze has moved into the queen’s position by Zyir’s side. Zyir has taken over the empire and locked down Miami’s streets; the world is in his hands. But there is always new blood ready to overthrow the throne. Young Carter has retired and moved away from the madness — that is, until he gets an unexpected visitor at his home. This person shakes up the whole family, causing chaos that threatens to bring down the Cartel for good. [*Produced by Buck 50 Productions]

     

  10. Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson
    (Grand Central Publishing, 2012-05-22, Paperback)
    The only wayDetective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene of the biggest case he’s ever been part of. The President’s son and daughter have been abducted from their school – an impossible crime, but somehow the kidnapper has done it. Alex does everything he can but is shunted to the fringes of the investigation. Someone powerful doesn’t want Cross too close.To stop Alex CrossA deadly contagion in the DC water supply threatens to cripple the capital, and Alex sees the looming shape of the most devastating attack the United States has ever experienced. He is already working flat-out on the abduction, and this massive assault pushes Cross completely over the edge.Is to kill himWith each hour that passes, the chance of finding the children alive diminishes. In an emotional private meeting, the First Lady asks Alex to please save her kids. Even the highest security clearance doesn’t get him any closer to the kidnapper – and Alex makes a desperate decision that goes against everything he believes. A full-throttle thriller with unstoppable action, unrestrained emotion, and relentless suspense, Kill Alex Cross is the most gripping Alex Cross novel James Patterson has ever written.

     

  11. An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny by Laura Schroff
    (Howard Books, 2012-08-07, Paperback)
    Stopping was never part of the plan . . . She was a successful ad sales rep in Manhattan. He was a homeless, eleven-year-old panhandler on the street. He asked for spare change; she kept walking. But then something stopped her in her tracks, and she went back. And she continued to go back, again and again. They met up nearly every week for years and built an unexpected, life-changing friendship that has today spanned almost three decades. Whatever made me notice him on that street corner so many years ago is clearly something that cannot be extinguished, no matter how relentless the forces aligned against it. Some may call it spirit. Some may call it heart. It drew me to him, as if we were bound by some invisible, unbreakable thread. And whatever it is, it binds us still.

     

  12. Home by Toni Morrison
    (Knopf, 2012-05-08, Hardcover)
    America’s most celebrated novelist, Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison extends her profound take on our history with this twentieth-century tale of redemption: a taut and tortured story about one man’s desperate search for himself in a world disfigured by war.Frank Money is an angry, self-loathing veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic experiences on the front lines, finds himself back in racist America with more than just physical scars. His home may seem alien to him, but he is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from and that he’s hated all his life. As Frank revisits his memories from childhood and the war that have left him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never possess again. A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood—and his home.

     

  13. The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony
    (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012-05-22, Paperback)
    When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of “rogue” wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd’s last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn’t take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom. The Elephant Whisperer is a heartwarming, exciting, funny, and sometimes sad account of Anthony’s experiences with these huge yet sympathetic creatures. Set against the background of life on an African game reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, it is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers and adventurous souls everywhere.

     

  14. Open City: A Novel by Teju Cole
    (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2012-01-17, Paperback)
    A haunting novel about identity, dislocation, and history, Teju Cole’s Open City is a profound work by an important new author who has much to say about our country and our world.   Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor named Julius wanders, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. He encounters people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.

     

  15. Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012-05-08, Hardcover)
    Daphne Sheldrick, whose family arrived in Africa from Scotland in the 1820s, is the first person ever to have successfully hand-reared newborn elephants. Her deep empathy and understanding, her years of observing Kenya’s rich variety of wildlife, and her pioneering work in perfecting the right husbandry and milk formula have saved countless elephants, rhinos, and other baby animals from certain death. In this heartwarming and poignant memoir, Daphne shares her amazing relationships with a host of orphans, including her first love, Bushy, a liquid-eyed antelope; Rickey-Tickey-Tavey, the little dwarf mongoose; Gregory Peck, the busy buffalo weaver bird; Huppety, the mischievous zebra; and the majestic elephant Eleanor, with whom Daphne has shared more than forty years of great friendship.  But this is also a magical and heartbreaking human love story between Daphne and David Sheldrick, the famous Tsavo Park warden. It was their deep and passionate love, David’s extraordinary insight into all aspects of nature, and the tragedy of his early death that inspired Daphne’s vast array of achievements, most notably the founding of the world-renowned David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Orphans’ Nursery in Nairobi National Park, where Daphne continues to live and work to this day.  Encompassing not only David and Daphne’s tireless campaign for an end to poaching and for conserving Kenya’s wildlife, but also their ability to engage with the human side of animals and their rearing of the orphans expressly so they can return to the wild, Love, Life, and Elephants is alive with compassion and humor, providing a rare insight into the life of one of the world’s most remarkable women.

     

  16. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
    (Grand Central Publishing, 2012-02-13, Paperback)
    It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.” And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

     

  17. Murderville 2: The Epidemic by Ashley
    (Cash Money Content, 2012-07-24, Paperback)
    New York Times best-selling authors Ashley & JaQuavis are back with the second installment in the epic Murderville Series. Love, murder, loyalty, and money fill this hood tale as they continue this international street saga. With Samad’s target on her back, Liberty must survive the harsh streets alone. but when a chance encounter pushes her into the arms of a new friend, Po, the two take on the California kingpin and step full force into the game. As bullets and sparks fly, the unlikely pair embark on a serendipitous journey back to where it all started, Sierra Leone. With a new overseas connection, Po sees an opportunity that is too good to pass up. When his pursuit of the American dream conflicts with Liberty’s past, will they be able to survive? Or will the drug empire that they’ve built together come crashing down?

     

  18. The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter
    (Knopf, 2012-07-10, Hardcover)
    From the best-selling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park and New England White, a daring reimagining of one of the most tumultuous moments in our nation’s past   Stephen L. Carter’s thrilling new novel takes as its starting point an alternate history: President Abraham Lincoln survives the assassination attempt at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Two years later he is charged with overstepping his constitutional authority, both during and after the Civil War, and faces an impeachment trial . . . Twenty-one-year-old Abigail Canner is a young black woman with a degree from Oberlin, a letter of employment from the law firm that has undertaken Lincoln’s defense, and the iron-strong conviction, learned from her late mother, that “whatever limitations society might place on ordinary negroes, they would never apply to her.” And so Abigail embarks on a life that defies the norms of every stratum of Washington society: working side by side with a white clerk, meeting the great and powerful of the nation, including the president himself.  But when Lincoln’s lead counsel is found brutally murdered on the eve of the trial, Abigail is plunged into a treacherous web of intrigue and conspiracy reaching the highest levels of the divided government. Here is a vividly imagined work of historical fiction that captures the emotional tenor of post–Civil War America, a brilliantly realized courtroom drama that explores the always contentious question of the nature of presidential authority, and a galvanizing story of political suspense.

     

  19. Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lomong
    (Thomas Nelson, 2012-07-17, Hardcover)
    Running for My Life is not a story about Africa or track and field athletics. It is about outrunning the devil and achieving the impossible faith, diligence, and the desire to give back. It is the American dream come true and a stark reminder that saving one can help to save thousands more. Lopez Lomong chronicles his inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team. Though most of us fall somewhere between the catastrophic lows and dizzying highs of Lomong’s incredible life, every reader will find in his story the human spark to pursue dreams that might seem unthinkable, even from circumstances that might appear hopeless. “Lopez Lomong’s story is one of true inspiration. His life is a story of courage, hard work, never giving up, and having hope where there is hopelessness all around. Lopez is a true role model.” ―MICHAEL JOHNSON, Olympic Gold Medalist “This true story of a Sudanese child refugee who became an Olympic star is powerful proof that God gives hope to the hopeless and shines a light in the darkest places. Don’t be surprised if after reading this incredible tale, you find yourself mysteriously drawn to run alongside him.” ―RICHARD STEARNS, president, World Vision US and author of THe Hole in Our Gospel

     

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