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Lately the Amazon bestseller list has become something of a political barometer. Congressman John Lewis' memoir "March" rose to the top after President Trump criticized him for questioning the legitimacy of the election. Since the election, "Hillbilly Elegy" - a memoir that's become a guide to working-class America - has been at or near the top of the list. And now the classic dystopian novel "1984" is number one, as NPR's Lynn Neary reports.
LYNN NEARY, BYLINE: The Amazon bestseller list is updated hourly, so it can swiftly track a surge in the book's popularity. A spokesman for Signet Classics, which currently publishes "1984," said sales have increased almost 10,000 percent since the inauguration and moved noticeably upwards on Sunday. That's when Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway appeared on "Meet The Press." When host Chuck Todd challenged the Trump administration's assertions about the size of the Inauguration Day crowd, Conway responded with a phrase that caught everyone's attention.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")
KELLYANNE CONWAY: You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving - Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that, but...
NEARY: Later that day on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty mentioned "1984" author George Orwell while discussing the phrase alternative facts.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RELIABLE SOURCES")
KAREN TUMULTY: It's a George Orwell phrase.
NEARY: Tumulty says it's been a long time since she read "1984," but she couldn't help thinking of it when she heard what Conway said.
TUMULTY: It just immediately reminded me of doublethink, and war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. There's really no alternative to the facts.
NEARY: CNN tweeted Tumulty's remark, and other journalists also made the connection. Yesterday, The New York Times' influential book critic Michiko Kakutani tweeted excerpts from the book, including this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Newspeak was designed not to extend, but to diminish the range of thought.
NEARY: For her part, Karen Tumulty says she's more concerned where all this is leading.
TUMULTY: Unless you can have pretty much everybody agree to precisely what the truth is and what the reality is, it really - it's hard to imagine a situation where people then can sit down and negotiate and figure their way towards solutions.
NEARY: Earlier this week, Signet ordered a new printing of 75,000 copies of "1984" and is considering even more. Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.
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