Annal: 2000 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

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

Book:Way Out There in the Blue

Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War

Frances FitzGerald

Way Out There in the Blue is a major work of history by the Pulitzer Prize­winning author of Fire in the Lake. Using the Star Wars missile defense program as a magnifying glass on his presidency, Frances FitzGerald gives us a wholly original portrait of Ronald Reagan, the most puzzling president of the last half of the twentieth century.

Reagan’s presidency and the man himself have always been difficult to fathom. His influence was enormous, and the few powerful ideas he espoused remain with us still—yet he seemed nothing more than a charming, simple-minded, inattentive actor. FitzGerald shows us a Reagan far more complex than the man we thought we knew. A master of the American language and of self-presentation, the greatest storyteller ever to occupy the Oval Office, Reagan created a compelling public persona that bore little relationship to himself.

The real Ronald Reagan—the Reagan who emerges from FitzGerald’s book—was a gifted politician with a deep understanding…[more]

Book:Darkness in El Dorado

Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon

Patrick Tierney

The explosive and highly controversial National Book Award finalist that has forever changed the discipline of anthropology. Thought to be the last “virgin” people, the Yanomami were considered the most savage and warlike tribe on earth, as well as one of the most remote, secreted in the jungles and highlands of the Venezuelan and Brazilian rainforest. Preeminent anthropologists like Napoleon Chagnon and Jacques Lizot founded their careers in the 1960s by “discovering” the Yanomami’s ferocious warfare and sexual competition. Their research is now examined in painstaking detail by Patrick Tierney, whose book has prompted the American Anthropological Association to launch a major investigation into the charges, and has ignited the academic world like no other book in recent years. The most important book on anthropology in decades, Darkness in El Dorado will be a work to be reckoned with by a new generation of students the world over. A National Book Award finalist; a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, and a Boston Globe Best Book of the Year. 16 pages of b/w photographs.

Book:The Missionary and the Libertine

The Missionary and the Libertine: Love and War in East and West

Ian Buruma

For centuries Westerners have projected fan-tasies of a decadent, voluptuous East in contrast to the puritanism of their own cultures. A Japanese theatrical troupe performing in his native Holland in 1971 exposed the young Ian Buruma to these temptations, and soon he was off to Tokyo, a would-be libertine. The essays collected in The Missionary and the Libertine chronicle Buruma’s sobering discovery that Asians often have equally distorted visions of the West.

In these humorous and enlightening essays, Buruma describes the last days of Hong Kong, the showbiz politics of the Philippines, the chauvinism of the Seoul Olympics, the sinister genius of Lee Kuan Yew, the intricacies of Japanese sexuality, and much more. His portraits of Benazir Bhutto, Imelda Marcos, Satyajit Ray, and Corazón Aquino are classics of the journalist’s art.

Buruma shows that the cultural gap between East and West is not as wide as either missionaries or libertines, in East or West, might think. At home in both worlds, he has provided a splendid counterblast to fashionable theories of clashing civilizations and uniquely Asian values. By stripping away our fantasies, Buruma reveals a world that is all too recognizably human.

Book:The Mysteries Within

The Mysteries Within: A Surgeon Explores Myth, Medicine, and the Human Body

Sherwin B. Nuland

As a veteran surgeon, Sherwin Nuland is familiar with such organs as the heart, stomach, liver, spleen, and uterus. In folklore and legend, these organs have been given “personalities” or behaviors that often reflected prevailing philosophies of the time. Although we think of ourselves as living in a scientific age, we have inherited many of these folktales and illusions, and we are often comforted by what they tell us about ourselves, even when the legends are inaccurate.

In tracing these legends from primitive times to the present day, Dr. Nuland shows how our current knowledge of these organs has emerged from a rich history of imaginative speculation about how the human body works and what role each of these major organs plays. (Our early ancestors believed that the organs were independent creatures living within their bodies.) He illustrates his point by recounting riveting stories of operations, such as a stomach surgery to remove a mysterious substance from a six-week-old…[more]

Book:Pitching Around Fidel

Pitching Around Fidel: A Journey into the Heart of Cuban Sports

S.L. Price

In an artful pastiche of observation, personal narrative, interviews, and investigative reporting, S.L. Price, a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated, describes sports and athletes in today’s Cuba. On his many journeys to the island, Price finds a country that celebrates sports like no other and a leader who uses athletics as both symbol and weapon in his country’s dying revolution.

With Castro’s regime staggering beneath the weight of a great depression and international sanctions, Cuba’s famed sports machine is imploding. Athletes are defecting by plane and raft. Superstars bike to games and train with shoddy equipment in bare gyms; and champion boxers, baseball players, and gymnasts are forced to scrounge for spare change on the streets. In 1959, when Castro rose to power, he declared a new era in Cuban baseball. Within four years all professional Cuban sports had been outlawed,…[more]

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