Amazon.com Inc's list of its best-selling books in the past 24 hours looks like a cross-section of its customers' psyches: the predictions of Nostradamus, photographs of Manhattan skyscrapers and studies of terrorism.
Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies by John Hogue, published in paperback in 1999, topped the list, perhaps because customers wanted to see how closely the 16th-century French astrologer foretold Tuesday's destruction by terrorists of the World Trade Center's twin towers. In all, four Nostradamus books, two on the World Trade Center and one about terrorism dominated the No. 1 online bookseller's top 10 list.
Second on the list was Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center (1999) by Angus Kress Gillespie, with a cover photo of the now-gone buildings.
Simon Reeve's The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism (1999), an account of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and subsequent attacks by a Bin Laden-funded terrorist, held the No. 3 slot.
Books detailing the prophecies of Nostradamus may have become more popular through the day as many Americans opened their computer in-boxes to find an e-mail purporting to quote the astrologer as saying the collapse of ``twin brothers torn apart by chaos'' would spark World War III.
The e-mail is a hoax, according to experts. "The second quatrain is entirely made-up, and the first quatrain is composed of lines taken from two completely different prophecies of Nostradamus linked together for effect," said snopes.com, a Web site devoted to countering Internet scams and hoaxes.
Americans hungry for more information related to Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington jammed the Internet with requests in the past few days. On Yahoo Inc's Web site, the top searches were for World Trade Center, Pentagon, Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan and Nostradamus.