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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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April 23rd, 2014
03:14 PM ET

How'd this book top Amazon's best-seller list?

(CNN) – One would think the secret to selling books would be to mimic the sorcery of "Harry Potter," or to capitalize on the teen vampire allure of "Twilight."

Astoundingly, the No. 1 best-seller on Amazon is currently a nearly 700-page tome about economic theory authored by a Frenchman: "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." Amazon cannot keep it in stock.

That's right, the most intense story line right now isn't about teens fighting to the death in a post-apocalyptic world, it's about the dramatic, rising reality of income inequality. And people want to know how the story will end.

"This shows that, you know, these issues about income and wealth are, you know, too important to be left to economists, you know. I think these are issues for everyone," says the author, French economist Thomas Piketty.

"If everybody has some share in the national wealth then that's fine, that's perfectly fine. But if it gets really concentrated in terms of ownership, then it is less fine," Piketty said in an interview with CNN's Christine Romans.

It is perhaps not surprising that in this era of Occupy Wall Street, rapacious Wall Street wolves, a presidential push on income inequality, and rising progressive stars like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, that such a book bashing Reagan-era "rising tides lift all boats" theories would become vogue.

"I think markets can do a lot of things, you know, they can create wealth. We need private property not only for wealth creation but also as a condition of personal freedom. But there are things that they cannot do alone," says Piketty.

Not surprisingly, he calls for much larger taxes on the wealthy, up to 80% starting at $500,000, and 60% at $200,000.

But what would that do to "economic growth, productivity, entrepreneurship or innovation?" critics like fund manager Daniel Shuchman, writing in the Wall Street Journal, ask.

Another critic, in the Financial Post, says Piketty is preaching anti-capitalist nonsense, and suggests "it was obsessions with equality that led to the tyrannies of both the guillotine and the gulag."

The debate over Piketty's book is intensifying.

"It's getting a lot of attention, I certainly wasn't expecting that much, but I'm glad," says the author.

Redistributing wealth in at least one small way – into the pocket of a previously obscure French economist.

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