Annal: 1997 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 1997.

Book:The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Anne Fadiman

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia’s parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run “Quiet War” in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia’s pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could…[more]

Book:Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Jon Krakauer

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10,1996, he hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the top, unaware that the sky had begun to roil with clouds…

Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed Outside journalist and author of the bestselling Into the Wild. Taking the reader step by step from Katmandu to the mountain’s deadly pinnacle, Krakauer has his readers shaking on the edge of their seat. Beyond the terrors of this account, however, he also peers deeply into the myth of the world’s tallest mountain. What is is about Everest that has compelled so many poeple—including himself—to…[more]

Book:Our Guys

Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb

Bernard Lefkowitz

It was a crime that captured national attention. In the idyllic suburb of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, four of the town’s most popular high school athletes were accused of raping a retarded young woman while nine of their teammates watched. Everyone was riveted by the question: What went wrong in this seemingly flawless American town?

In search of the answer, Bernard Lefkowitz takes the reader behind Glen Ridge’s manicured facade into the shadowy basement that was the scene of the rape, into the mansions on “Millionaire’s Row”, into the All-American high school, and finally into the courtroom where justice itself was on trial.

Lefkowitz’s sweeping narrative, informed by more than 200 interviews and six years of research, recreates a murky adolescent world that parents didn’t—or wouldn’t—see: a high school dominated by a band of predatory athletes; a teenage culture…[more]

Book:Race, Crime, and the Law

Race, Crime, and the Law

Randall Kennedy

“An original, wise and courageous work that moves beyond sterile arguments and lifts the discussion of race and justice to a new and more hopeful level.”—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

In this groundbreaking, powerfully reasoned, lucid work that is certain to provoke controversy, Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy takes on a highly complex issue in a way that no one has before. Kennedy uncovers the long-standing failure of the justice system to protect blacks from criminals, probing allegations that blacks are victimized on a widespread basis by racially discriminatory prosecutions and punishments, but he also engages the debate over the wisdom and legality of using racial criteria in jury selection. He analyzes the responses of the legal system to accusations that appeals to racial prejudice have rendered trials unfair, and examines the idea that, under certain circumstances, members of one race are statistically more likely to be involved in crime than members of another.

Book:The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture

The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture

Daniel Harris

Though many in the gay community strive to be accepted into mainstream society, assimilation is watering down a once vibrant culture, rendering it as bland as a production of Streetcar without Blanche Dubois. As corporate America opens its arms and the gay population comes running, the commercialization of gay culture makes it conventional—imagine Valley of the Dolls with M&M’s.

In this provocative, brilliantly reasoned book, charged throughout with a penetrating eye and stinging wit, Daniel Harris examines the many shadings of the gay experience as they have evolved over time, including the demise of camp and kink, the evolution of personal ads, the origins of the underwear revolution, the changing face of porn and glossy magazines, the morph of drag queens and leathermen, and the marketing of AIDS as commodity.

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