Annal: 2000 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2000.

Book:Jefferson Davis, American

Jefferson Davis, American

William J. Cooper

From a distinguished historian of the American South comes this thoroughly human portrait of the complex man at the center of our nation’s most epic struggle.

Jefferson Davis initially did not wish to leave the Union-as the son of a veteran of the American Revolution and as a soldier and senator, he considered himself a patriot. William J. Cooper shows us how Davis’ initial reluctance turned into absolute commitment to the Confederacy. He provides a thorough account of Davis’ life, both as the Confederate President and in the years before and after the war. Elegantly written and impeccably researched, Jefferson Davis, American is the definitive examination of one of the most enigmatic figures in our nation’s history.

Book:The First American

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

H.W. Brands

In the first comprehensive biography of Benjamin Franklin in over sixty years, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands brings vividly to life one of the most delightful, bawdy, brilliant, original, and important figures in American history.

A groundbreaking scientist, leading businessman, philosopher, bestselling author, inventor, diplomat, politician, and wit, Benjamin Franklin was perhaps the most beloved and celebrated American of his age, or indeed of any age. Now, in a beautifully written and meticulously researched account of Franklin’s life and times, his clever repartee, generous spirit, and earthy wisdom are brought compellingly to the page.

His circle of friends and acquaintances extended around the globe, from Cotton Mather to Voltaire, from Edmund Burke to King George III, from Sir Isaac Newton to Immanuel Kant. Franklin was gifted with a restless curiosity, and his scientific experiments…[more]

Book:Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis

An illuminating study of the intertwined lives of the founders of the American republic—John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.

During the 1790s, which Ellis calls the most decisive decade in our nation’s history, the greatest statesmen of their generation—and perhaps any—came together to define the new republic and direct its course for the coming centuries. Ellis focuses on six discrete moments that exemplify the most crucial issues facing the fragile new nation: Burr and Hamilton’s deadly duel, and what may have really happened; Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison’s secret dinner, during which the seat of the permanent capital was determined in exchange for passage of Hamilton’s financial plan; Franklin’s petition to end the “peculiar institution” of slavery—his last public act—and Madison’s efforts to quash it; Washington’s precedent-setting Farewell Address,…[more]

Book:Hitler: Volume 2. 1936-1945 Nemesis

Hitler: Volume 2. 1936-1945 Nemesis

Ian Kershaw

The most powerful account of Hitler’s domination of the German people through fanaticism, divisiveness, and luck. From his illegitimate birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail, strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths. One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in this century.

Ian Kershaw’s Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the character of the bizarre misfit in his thirty-year ascent from a Viennese shelter for the indigent to uncontested rule over the German nation that had tried and rejected democracy in the crippling aftermath of World War I. With extraordinary vividness, Kershaw recreates the settings that made Hitler’s rise possible: the virulent anti-Semitism of prewar Vienna, the crucible of a war with immense casualties, the toxic nationalism that gripped…[more]

Book:Mao

Mao: A Life

Philip Short

The definitive biography of the man who dominated modern Chinese history.

When the Nationalists routed a ragtag Red Army on the Xiang River during the Long March, an earthy Chinese peasant with a brilliant mind moved to a position of power. Eight years after his military success, Mao Tse-Tung had won out over more sophisticated rivals to become party chairman, his title for life. Isolated by his eminence, he lived like a feudal emperor for much of his reign after a blood purge took more lives than those killed by either Stalin or Hitler. His virtual quarantine resulted in an ideological/political divide and a devastating reign of terror that became the Cultural Revolution. Though Mao broke the shackles of two thousand years of Confucian right thinking and was the major force of contemporary China, he reverted to the simplistic thinking of his peasant origins at the end, sustained by the same autocratic process that supported China’s first emperors. …[more]

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