Annal: 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2003.

Book:American Empire

American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization

Neil Smith

An American Empire, constructed over the last century, long ago overtook European colonialism, and it has been widely assumed that the new globalism it espoused took us “beyond geography.” Neil Smith debunks that assumption, offering an incisive argument that American globalism had a distinct geography and was pieced together as part of a powerful geographical vision. The power of geography did not die with the twilight of European colonialism, but it did change fundamentally. That the inauguration of the American Century brought a loss of public geographical sensibility in the United States was itself a political symptom of the emerging empire. This book provides a vital geographical-historical context for understanding the power and limits of contemporary globalization, which can now be seen as representing the third of three distinct historical moments of U.S. global ambition.

The story unfolds through a decisive account of the career of Isaiah Bowman (1878–1950), the most famous American geographer…[more]

Book:Goya

Goya

Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes turns his critical eye to one of art history’s most compelling, enigmatic, and important figures, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. With characteristic critical fervor and sure-eyed insight, Hughes brings us the story of an artist whose life and work bridged the transition from the eighteenth-century reign of the old masters to the early days of the nineteenth-century moderns.

With his salient passion for the artist and art, Hughes brings Goya vividly to life through analysis of a vast breadth of his work. Building upon the historical evidence that exists, Hughes tracks Goya’s development, as man and artist, without missing a beat, from the early works commissioned by the Church, through his long, productive, and tempestuous career at court, to the darkly sinister and cryptic work he did at the end of his life. …[more]

Book:Jung

Jung: A Biography

Deirdre Bair

One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Carl Gustav Jung has profoundly touched virtually all aspects of our modern culture, including medicine, religion, philosophy, literature, art, and, of course, the ever-evolving field of psychoanalysis. Born in Switzerland in 1875, this son of a poor country parson and his troubled wife would by the end of his life become an iconic figure, his vast body of writings and teachings known the world over. Through his pioneering theories of personality and the unconscious, Jung is responsible for many terms we now consider common: the archetype and the collective unconscious, introvert and extravert, anima and animus, synchronicity and individuation, and even New Age spirituality. Despite Jung’s renown, however, the details of his life have been steeped in secrecy and controversy. Now, National Book Award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair draws on new research into untapped sources to reveal the father of analytical psychology as we have never seen him before. …[more]

Book:Pushkin

Pushkin: A Biography

T.J. Binyon

Pushkin is Russia’s greatest and best-loved poet: a romantic, enigmatic figure who, during a brief but turbulent life, changed Russian literature forever with his vital and passionate verse. Many of his works—including The Bronze Horseman, The Queen of Spades, and his extraordinary novel in verse, Eugene Onegin—have become classics of world literature and are as exhilarating to read today as they were when first published. Now we have the first full biography in sixty years of this literary legend.

Born in Moscow in 1799, he was descended on one side from an ancient noble family, on the other from a black African slave of Peter the Great. At the age of twenty he was expelled from St. Petersburg for his satirical writings. He remained in internal exile, under the direct supervision of the emperor, for the next seven years, and throughout his life attracted official disapproval…[more]

Book:River of Shadows

River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West

Rebecca Solnit

The world as we know it today began in California in the late 1800s, and Eadweard Muybridge had a lot to do with it. This striking assertion is at the heart of Rebecca Solnit’s new book, which weaves together biography, history, and fascinating insights into art and technology to create a boldly original portrait of America on the threshold of modernity. The story of Muybridge—who in 1872 succeeded in capturing high-speed motion photographically—becomes a lens for a larger story about the acceleration and industrialization of everyday life. Solnit shows how the peculiar freedoms and opportunities of post–Civil War California led directly to the two industries—Hollywood and Silicon Valley—that have most powerfully defined contemporary society.

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