Annal: 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

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

Book:The New Chinese Empire And What It Means for the United States

The New Chinese Empire And What It Means for the United States

Ross Terrill

A leading expert’s brilliant analysis of how China will finally accept liberalism, and what that will mean for the United States.

Some observers expect China to become an economic superpower. Others expect it to fragment into pieces. Is China nationalistic and on the march, or is it a stumbling Communist dinosaur? Is it already a billion-citizen member of the global village? Is it, as the Clinton administration claimed, a “strategic partner” of the U.S.?

Ross Terrill addresses the question upon which all these others depend: Is the People’s Republic of China, whose polity is a hybrid of Chinese tradition and Western Marxism, willing to become a modern nation or does it insist on remaining an empire? Since the collapse of three thousand years of Confucian monarchy in 1911, China has neither established a successful political…[more]

Book:Cut Time

Cut Time: An Education at the Fights

Carlo Rotella

Boxing is not just fighting; it is also training and living right and preparing to go the distance in the broadest sense of the phrase, a relentless managing of self that anyone who gets truly old must learn.”
— from Cut Time

As his affection for boxing grows, Carlo Rotella discovers that it sheds a startling light on the world outside the ring. The brief, disastrous boxing career of one of his students pinpoints the moment when adulthood arrives. The hard-won insight of a fellow fan shows Rotella how to process the trauma of a car crash. The persistence of a wizened ex–lightweight champion gives him the key to understanding and honoring his grandmother.

Rotella unearths the hidden wisdom in any kind of fight, from barroom dustup to HBO extravaganza. He vividly describes…[more]

Book:Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

Anthony Swofford

Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead is the first Gulf War memoir by a frontline infantry marine, and it is a searing, unforgettable narrative.

When the marines—or “jarheads,” as they call themselves—were sent in 1990 to Saudi Arabia to fight the Iraqis, Swofford was there, with a hundred-pound pack on his shoulders and a sniper’s rifle in his hands. It was one misery upon another. He lived in sand for six months, his girlfriend back home betrayed him for a scrawny hotel clerk, he was punished by boredom and fear, he considered suicide, he pulled a gun on one of his fellow marines, and he was shot at by both Iraqis and Americans. At the end of the war, Swofford hiked for miles through a landscape of incinerated Iraqi soldiers and later was nearly killed in a booby-trapped Iraqi bunker. …[more]

Book:Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. In Under the Banner of Heaven, he shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders. At the core of his book is an appalling double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their blameless victims. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this “divinely inspired” crime, Krakauer constructs a multilayered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, savage violence, polygamy, and unyielding faith. Along the way, he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest-growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.

Krakauer takes readers inside isolated communities in the American West, Canada, and Mexico, where some forty-thousand…[more]

Book:Why America Slept

Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11

Gerald Posner

The story of the years leading up to 9/11 is the story of what might have been, and also serves as a call to the defense of America’s future. Since 9/11, one important question has persisted: What was really going on behind the scenes with intelligence services and government leaders during the time preceding the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks?

After an eighteen-month investigation that uncovered explosive new evidence through interviews and in classified documents, Gerald Posner reveals much previously undisclosed information:

  • the identity of two countries that might have had foreknowledge that a terrorist attack was scheduled for September 11 on U.S. soil
  • a startling account of the interrogation of a leading al Qaeda captive …[more]
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