WAR LETTERS
Edited by Andrew Carroll
Scribner, $28

Colin Powell, Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Norman Schwarzkopf, and more distant heroes pen letters in this heartfelt collection of American history. Just as compelling, though, are the letters from ordinary soldiers and their families. And if you can read only one, make it the final letter in the book. Have a tissue ready.

NO GREAT MISCHIEF
By Alistair MacLeod
Vintage Books, $13

The MacDonald family is bound together by something that runs even deeper than blood, in this novel set in Nova Scotia. The tales of these brothers and the generations before them suggest that family history is indeed woven into our very being.

“OH, WAITER! ONE ORDER OF CROW!”
By Jeff Greenfield
Putnam, $24.95

The 2000 election inspired more books than there are dimpled chads. In an account that manages to be both funny and interesting, Greenfield, a senior analyst for CNN, makes you want to read about an event the nation would rather soon forget.

A YEAR IN VAN NUYS
By Sandra Tsing Loh
Crown Publishers, $23

“Not only do I not live in Provence, I do not even live in a nice part of Los Angeles,” says the author, a frequent NPR commentator. What follows is a hilarious, year-in-the-life account of one of us regular folk.