Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2008.
Drawing on an unprecedented variety of sources, Mark Mazower reveals how the Nazis designed, maintained, and ultimately lost their European empire and offers a chilling vision of the world Hitler would have made had he won the war.
Germany’s forces achieved, in just a few years, the astounding domination of a landmass and population larger than that of the United States. Control of this vast territory was meant to provide the basis for Germany’s rise to unquestioned world power. Eastern Europe was to be the Reich’s Wild West, transformed by massacre and colonial settlement. Western Europe was to provide the economic resources that would knit an authoritarian and racially cleansed continent together. But the brutality and short-sightedness of Nazi politics lost what German arms had won and brought their equally rapid downfall.
Time and again, the speed of the Germans’ victories caught them unprepared for the economic or psychological intricacies…[more]
Few books have caused as big a stir as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, when it was published in April 1939. By May, it was the nation’s number one bestseller, but in Kern County, California—the Joads’ newfound home—the book was burned publicly and banned from library shelves. Obscene in the Extreme tells the remarkable story behind this fit of censorship.
When W.B. “Bill” Camp, a giant cotton and potato grower, presided over its burning in downtown Bakersfield, he declared: “We are angry, not because we were attacked but because we were attacked by a book obscene in the extreme sense of the word.” But Gretchen Knief, the Kern County librarian, bravely fought back. “If that book is banned today, what book will be banned tomorrow?”
Obscene in the Extreme serves as a window into an extraordinary time of upheaval in America—a time when, as Steinbeck put it, there seemed to be “a revolution…going on.”
In October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union appeared to be sliding inexorably toward a nuclear conflict over the placement of missiles in Cuba. Veteran Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs has pored over previously untapped American, Soviet, and Cuban sources to produce the most authoritative book yet on the Cuban missile crisis. In his hour-by-hour chronicle of those near-fatal days, Dobbs reveals some startling new incidents that illustrate how close we came to Armageddon.
Here, for the first time, are gripping accounts of Khrushchev’s plan to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo; the accidental overflight of the Soviet Union by an American spy plane; the movement of Soviet nuclear warheads around Cuba during the tensest days of the crisis; the activities of CIA agents inside Cuba; and the crash landing of an American F-106 jet with a live…[more]
The struggle for racial equality in the North has been a footnote in most books about civil rights in America. Now this monumental new work from one of the most brilliant historians of his generation sets the record straight. Sweet Land of Liberty is an epic, revelatory account of the abiding quest for justice in states from Illinois to New York, and of how the intense northern struggle differed from and was inspired by the fight down South.
Thomas Sugrue’s panoramic view sweeps from the 1920s to the present–more than eighty of the most decisive years in American history. He uncovers the forgotten stories of battles to open up lunch counters, beaches, and movie theaters in the North; the untold history of struggles against Jim Crow schools in northern towns; the dramatic story of racial conflict in northern cities and suburbs; and the long and tangled histories of integration and black power. …[more]
An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War.
During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today’s population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death. …[more]