Fall Books: Topical, escapist, businesslike

Author-filmmaker-activist Michael Moore thinks we should even take a break from reading any of the fall releases, including his own, and get out there and work for our favorite (progressive) candidates.

But publishers and booksellers are betting - and praying - that a combination of topical works, escapist tales and a very long look at the business of being a billionaire will lure us from the screen, TV or computer, and back to the printed page.

Moore's new book, "Mike's Election Guide 2008," is already a best-seller on Amazon.com.

A look at five major releases for fall:

- "The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008," Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster): The fourth of Woodward's chronicles of the Bush administration has been billed as the hottest inside Washington document since the Pentagon Papers. It should certainly be the political book of the fall, even if it isn't about presidential nominees Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.

- "Hot, Flat and Crowded," Thomas Friedman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux): The influential New York Times columnist and author of the million-selling "The World Is Flat" calls for the United States to lead a "Code Green" environmental revolution. "America's problem is that it has lost its way in recent years," he writes.

- "Brisingr," Christopher Paolini (Alfred A. Knopf): The third of Paolini's million-selling "Inheritance" fantasy series will get a Harry Potter-style midnight launch, although it's doubtful the book will have Harry Potter-style sales.

- "The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life," Alice Schroeder (Bantam): Nearly 1,000 pages, Schroeder's authorized biography promises a deep and unprecedented look into the world of the press-shy billionaire investor.

- "The Hour I First Believed," Wally Lamb (HarperCollins): Booksellers are excited about the first novel in a decade from the author of "She's Come Undone." Lamb's new novel, more than 700 pages, is centered on two teachers at Columbine High School, in suburban Colorado, during the 1999 shootings.
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