Annal: 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 1999.

Book:Sidewalk

Sidewalk

Mitchell Duneier

In 1961, Jane Jacobs changed the literature of urban life forever with The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a now-classic study grounded in her observation of her own neighborhood, Greenwich Village.

In Sidewalk, Mitchell Duneier (author of the acclaimed Slim’s Table) takes us back to the streets of the Village, but finds a scene very different from the one Jacobs described. Much of the architecture remains, and many people live the way Jacobs suggested, but there is another population in the Village today—poor black men who make their lives on the sidewalks by selling secondhand goods, panhandling, and scavenging books and magazines left out for recycling, and whose appearance and behavior are affronts to the sensibilities of many passersby. By now the men are known to many Village residents: Hakim Hasan, who sells “black books” and acts as an informal mentor to young men; Ishmael, Grady, Ron and Marvin, who sell magazines and other merchandise,…[more]

Book:An Affair of State

An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton

Richard A. Posner

President Bill Clinton’s year of crisis, which began when his affair with Monica Lewinsky hit the front pages in January 1998, engendered a host of important questions of criminal and constitutional law, public and private morality, and political and cultural conflict.

In a book written while the events of the year were unfolding, Richard Posner presents a balanced and scholarly understanding of the crisis that also has the freshness and immediacy of journalism. Posner clarifies the issues and eliminates misunderstandings concerning facts and the law that were relevant to the investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and to the impeachment proceeding itself. He explains the legal definitions of obstruction of justice and perjury, which even many lawyers are unfamiliar with. He carefully assesses the conduct of Starr and his prosecutors, including their contacts with the lawyers for Paula…[more]

Book:Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Mark Bowden

The acclaimed New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down is “a shocking account of modern warfare . . . gripping and horrifying” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Destined to become a classic of war reporting, Black Hawk Down is Mark Bowden’s brilliant account of the longest sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War. On October 3rd, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take an hour. Instead they found themselves pinned down through a long and terrible night fighting against thousands of heavily armed Somalis. The following morning, eighteen Americans were dead and more than seventy had been badly injured. …[more]

Book:A Border Passage

A Border Passage: From Cairo to America—A Woman's Journey

Leila Ahmed

A lyrical memoir—from Egyptian Muslim girlhood to American feminist womanhood.

Leila Ahmed grew up in Cairo in the 1940s and ‘50s in a family that was eagerly and passionately political. Although many in the Egyptian upper classes were firmly opposed to change, the Ahmeds were proud supporters of independence. But the family’s opposition to Nasser’s policies led to persecutions that would set their youngest child on a journey across cultures and through some of the major transformations of our century: the end of colonialism and the European empires, the creation of Israel, the rise of Arab nationalism, and the breakdown of the multireligious society that had thrived in Egypt.

Through university in England and teaching jobs in Abu Dhabi and America, Ahmed sought to define herself-and to understand how the world defined her-as a woman, a Muslim, an Egyptian, and an Arab. Her search touched on language and nationalism, on…[more]

Book:Chosen By God

Chosen By God: A Brother's Journey

Joshua Hammer

“Written with sensitivity and insight, Chosen by God makes for compelling reading. “—The Jewish Week

“This 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist tells the extraordinary story of Joshua Hammer search to reconnect with his brother, Tony and his new existence as an ultra-orthodox Jew renamed Tuvia. Growing up in a non-religious household in Manhattan, Josh never conceived that Tony would end up in an arranged marriage and devoting his life to the Torah in a closed, cloistered world in which outsiders were not welcome. As Josh follows his brother metamorphic path from a life-changing stay in Jerusalem through Tuvia newfound religious fervor, he grows to better understand his brother, as well as the most frightening and exotic territory for a foreign correspondent: his own family —(Dani Shapiro).

“A wonderful debut by a superb journalist.” —James McBride

“A clear-eyed reckoning with the spirits of alienation and belonging that haunt our relations to our blood kin and to God.” —Philip Gourevitch

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