Annal: 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2002.

Book:Master of the Senate

Master of the Senate: Volume 3 of The Years of Lyndon Johnson

Robert A. Caro

Book Three of Robert A. Caro’s monumental work, The Years of Lyndon Johnson—the most admired and riveting political biography of our era—which began with the best-selling and prizewinning The Path to Power and Means of Ascent.

Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: his twelve years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. At the heart of the book is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done.

It was during these years that all Johnson’s experience—from his Texas Hill Country boyhood to his passionate representation in Congress of his hardscrabble constituents to his tireless construction of a political machine—came to fruition. Caro…[more]

Book:The Country Under My Skin

The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War

Gioconda Belli

An electrifying memoir from the acclaimed Nicaraguan writer (“A wonderfully free and original talent”—Harold Pinter) and central figure in the Sandinista Revolution.

Until her early twenties, Gioconda Belli inhabited an upper-class cocoon: sheltered from the poverty in Managua in a world of country clubs and debutante balls; educated abroad; early marriage and motherhood. But in 1970, everything changed. Her growing dissatisfaction with domestic life, and a blossoming awareness of the social inequities in Nicaragua, led her to join the Sandinistas, then a burgeoning but still hidden organization. She would be involved with them over the next twenty years at the highest, and often most dangerous, levels.

Her memoir is both a revelatory insider’s account of the Revolution and a vivid, intensely felt story about coming of…[more]

Book:Jesse James

Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War

T.J. Stiles

A brilliant biography of Jesse James, and a stunning reinterpretation of an American icon. Stripped of the familiar myths surrounding him, James emerges a far more significant figure: ruthless, purposeful, intensely political; a man who, in the midst of his crimes and notoriety, made himself a spokesman for the renewal of the Confederate cause during the bitter decade that followed Appomattox.

Traditionally, Jesse James has been portrayed as a Wild West bandit, a Robin Hood of sorts. But in this meticulously researched, vividly written account of his life, he emerges as far more complicated. Raised in a fiercely pro-slavery atmosphere in bitterly divided Missouri, he began at sixteen to fight alongside some of the most savage Confederate guerrillas. When the Civil War ended, his violent path led him into the brutal conflicts of Reconstruction. …[more]

Book:Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self

Claire Tomalin

For a decade, beginning in 1660, an ambitious young London civil servant kept an astonishingly candid account of his life during one of the most defining periods in British history. In Samuel Pepys, Claire Tomalin offers us a fully realized and richly nuanced portrait of this man, whose inadvertent masterpiece would establish him as the greatest diarist in the English language.

Against the backdrop of plague, civil war, and regicide, with John Milton composing diplomatic correspondence for Oliver Cromwell, Christopher Wren drawing up plans to rebuild London, and Isaac Newton advancing the empirical study of the world around us, Tomalin weaves a breathtaking account of a figure who has passed on to us much of what we know about seventeenth-century London. We witness Pepys’s early life and education, see him advising King Charles II before running to watch the great fire consume…[more]

Book:Secrets

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg began his career as the coldest of cold warriors-a U. S. Marine company commander, a Pentagon analyst, and a staunch supporter of America’s battle against Communist expansion. But in October 1969, Ellsberg-fully expecting to spend the rest of his life in prison-set out to turn around American foreign policy by smuggling out of his office the seven-thousand-page top-secret study, known as the Pentagon Papers, of U.S. decision making in Vietnam. Now, for the first time, Ellsberg tells the full story of how and why he became one of the nation’s most impassioned and influential anti-war activists-and how his actions helped alter the course of U.S. history.

Covering the decade between his entry into the Pentagon and Nixon’s resignation, Secrets is Ellsberg’s meticulously detailed insider’s account of the secrets and lies that shaped American foreign policy during the Vietnam era. Ellsberg…[more]

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