Annal: 1997 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History

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

Book:A People's Tragedy

A People's Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution

Orlando Figes

It is history on an epic yet human scale. Vast in scope, exhaustive in original research, written with passion, narrative skill, and human sympathy, A People’s Tragedy is a profound account of the Russian Revolution for a new generation.

Many consider the Russian Revolution to be the most significant event of the twentieth century. Distinguished scholar Orlando Figes presents a panorama of Russian society on the eve of that revolution, and then narrates the story of how these social forces were violently erased. Within the broad stokes of war and revolution are miniature histories of individuals, in which Figes follows the main players’ fortunes as they saw their hopes die and their world crash into ruins. Unlike previous accounts that trace the origins of the revolution to overreaching political forces and ideals, Figes argues that the failure of democracy in 1917 was deeply rooted in Russian culture and social history and that what had started as a people’s revolution contained the seeds…[more]

Book:Echoes of a Native Land

Echoes of a Native Land: Two Centuries of a Russian Village

Serge Schmemann

Tracing the lives of his Russian forebears, Serge Schmemann, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times, tells a remarkable story that spans the past two hundred years of Russian history.

First, he draws on a family archive rich in pictorial as well as documentary treasure to bring us into the prerevolutionary life of the village of Sergiyevskoye (now called Koltsovo), where the spacious estate of his mother’s family was the seat of a manor house as vast and imposing as a grand hotel.

In this village, on this estate—ringed with orchards, traversed by endless paths through linden groves, overseen by a towering brick church, and bordered by a sparkling-clear river—we live through the cycle of a year: the springtime mud, summertime card parties, winter nights of music and good talk in a haven safe from the bitter cold and ever-present snow. Family recollections of life a century ago summon up an aura of devotion to tsar and church. The…[more]
Book:Fat History

Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West

Peter N. Stearns

The modern struggle against fat cuts deeply and pervasively into American culture. Dieting, weight consciousness, and widespread hostility toward obesity form one of the fundamental themes of modern life.

Fat History explores the meaning of fat in contemporary Western society and illustrates how progressive changes, such as growth in consumer culture, increasing equality for women, and the refocusing of women’s sexual and maternal roles have influenced today’s obsession with fat.

Brought up-to-date with a new preface and filled with narrative anecdotes, Fat History explores fat’s transformation from a symbol of health and well-being to a sign of moral, psychological, and physical disorder.

Book:Nazi Germany and the Jews

Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1. The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939

Saul Friedländer

A great historian crowns a lifetime of thought and research by answering a question that has haunted us for more than 50 years: How did one of the most industrially and culturally advanced nations in the world embark on and continue along the path leading to one of the most enormous criminal enterprises in history, the extermination of Europe’s Jews?

Giving considerable emphasis to a wealth of new archival findings, Saul Friedlander restores the voices of Jews who, after the 1933 Nazi accession to power, were engulfed in an increasingly horrifying reality. We hear from the persecutors themselves: the leaders of the Nazi party, the members of the Protestant and Catholic hierarchies, the university elites, and the heads of the business community. Most telling of all, perhaps, are the testimonies of ordinary German citizens, who in the main acquiesced to increasing waves of dismissals, segregation, humiliation, impoverishment, expulsion, and violence.

Book:Sun Dancing

Sun Dancing: Life in a Medieval Irish Monastery and How Celtic Spirituality Influenced the World

Geoffrey Moorhouse

Visible on a clear day off the west coast of Ireland, the Skellig Islands, a cluster of cruel rocks, rise spectacularly from the Atlantic Ocean. A sanctuary to birds and seals today, for over six hundred years during the middle ages it was a center for a particularly intense form of monastic life, one that acclaimed writer Geoffrey Moorhouse explores with utmost fascination, scholarship, and imagination in Sun Dancing.

A must read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Celtic spirituality, Moorhouse’s lively narrative is a superbly imagined account of the monks’ isolated life-the spiritual struggles and triumphs and unbelievable physical hardships. To complement and enrich the book, Moorhouse establishes the historical context of Irish monasticism and describes the monks’ influence and undeniable role in preserving western civilization, as well as unexpected connections between medieval Ireland and India, Egypt, and Byzantium, and the surviving impact of pagan mythology.

An entertaining and enlightening work, Sun Dancing makes medieval Ireland come alive.

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