Annal: 1995 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 1995.

Book:Life on the Color Line

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black

Gregory Howard Williams

As a child in 1950s segregated Virginia, Gregory Howard Williams grew up believing he was white. But when the family business failed and his parents’ marriage fell apart, Williams discovered that his dark-skinned father, who had been passing as Italian-American, was half black. The family split up, and Greg, his younger brother, and their father moved to Muncie, Indiana, where the young boys learned the truth about their heritage. Overnight, Greg Williams became black.

In this extraordinary and powerful memoir, Williams recounts his remarkable journey along the color line and illuminates the contrasts between the black and white worlds: one of privilege, opportunity, and comfort, the other of deprivation, repression, and struggle. He tells of the hositlity and prejudice he encountered all too often, from both blacks and whites, and the surprising moments of encouragement and acceptance he found from each.

Life on the Color Line is a uniquely important book. It is a wonderfully inspiring testament of purpose, perseverance, and human triumph.

Book:Beyond Individualism

Beyond Individualism: How Social Demands of the New Identity Groups Challenge American Political and

Michael J. Piore

The Reagan and Bush years left us with a troublesome dilemma: how to balance our budget deficit against our social deficit. This book takes up the urgent question of how, in a time of budgetary stringency, we can meet the pent-up demand for spending on our nation’s neglected poor, ill, and disadvantaged, old and young.

Michael Piore’s response is to develop a new social theory that balances individual preferences against the claims and responsibilities of the community. By explaining the role of groups in economic and social life, this theory makes sense of a host of perplexing social phenomena and policy issues, from equal employment opportunity to international competitiveness to the decline of organized labor, from multicultural education to health insurance to the underclass. Piore traces our difficulties in addressing these issues to the limits of liberal social theory, particularly its sharp distinctions between individuality and community.…[more]

Book:Blue Dreams

Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots

Nancy Abelmann, John Lie

Blue Dreams shows how Korean Americans, variously depicted as immigrant seekers after the American dream or as racist merchants exploiting African Americans, emerged at the crossroads of conflicting social reflections in the aftermath of the 1992 riots.

The situation of Los Angeles’s Korean Americans touches on some of the most vexing issues facing American society today: ethnic conflict, urban poverty, immigration, multiculturalism, and ideological polarization. Combining interviews and deft sociohistorical analysis, Blue Dreams gives these problems a human face and at the same time clarifies the historical, political, and economic factors that render them so complex.

Book:Growing Up With a Single Parent

Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps

Sarah McLanahan, Gary Sandefur

Nonwhite and white, rich and poor, born to an unwed mother or weathering divorce, over half of all children in the current generation will live in a single-parent family—and these children simply will not fare as well as their peers who live with both parents. This is the clear and urgent message of this powerful book. Based on four national surveys and drawing on more than a decade of research, Growing Up with a Single Parent sharply demonstrates the connection between family structure and a child’s prospects for success.

What are the chances that the child of a single parent will graduate from high school, go on to college, find and keep a job? Will she become a teenage mother? Will he be out of school and out of work? These are the questions the authors pursue across the spectrum of race, gender, and class. Children whose parents live apart, the authors find, are twice as likely to drop out…[more]

Book:We, the Jury

We, the Jury: The Jury System and the Ideal of Democracy

Jeffrey Abramson

In a new preface to this foundational book on the American jury, Abramson responds to his critics, defends his views on the jury as an embodiment of deliberative democracy in action, and reflects on recent jury trials and reforms.

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