Annal: 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2010.

Book:The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

Michael Lewis

Truth really is stranger than fiction. Who better than the author of the signature bestseller Liar’s Poker to explain how the event we were told was impossible—the free fall of the American economy—finally occurred; how the things that we wanted, like ridiculously easy money and greatly expanded home ownership, were vehicles for that crash; and how shareholder demand for profit forced investment executives to eat the forbidden fruit of toxic derivatives.

Michael Lewis’s splendid cast of characters includes villains, a few heroes, and a lot of people who look very, very foolish: high government officials, including the watchdogs; heads of major investment banks (some overlap here with previous category); perhaps even the face in your mirror. In this trenchant, raucous, irresistible narrative, Lewis writes of the goats and of the few who saw what the emperor was wearing, and gives them, most memorably, what they deserve. He proves yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our times.

Book:All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis

All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis

Bethany McLean, Joe Nocera

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” —Shakespeare, The Tempest

Before the dust even settled, competing theories emerged to explain the financial crisis. Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, clueless homeowners, or timid regulators? Or on foreign culprits in London, Beijing, or Tehran? Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, two of America’s most acclaimed business journalists, offer the definitive answer: all of the above and more. Many devils helped bring hell to the economy.

This surprising narrative goes back more than twenty years to reveal, in rich, anecdotal detail, how Wall Street, the mortgage industry, and the government conspired to change the way Americans bought their homes, creating a perfect storm. The authors take us inside elusive institutions such as Goldman Sachs, AIG, and Fannie Mae, to reveal who changed the game and why. …[more]

Book:Just Kids

Just Kids

Patti Smith

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled…[more]

Book:The Promise: President Obama, Year One

The Promise: President Obama, Year One

Jonathan Alter

Barack Obama’s inauguration as president on January 20, 2009, inspired the world. But the great promise of “Change We Can Believe In” was immediately tested by the threat of another Great Depression, a worsening war in Afghanistan, and an entrenched and deeply partisan system of business as usual in Washington. Despite all the coverage, the backstory of Obama’s historic first year in office has until now remained a mystery.

In The Promise: President Obama, Year One, Jonathan Alter, one of the country’s most respected journalists and historians, uses his unique access to the White House to produce the first inside look at Obama’s difficult debut.

What happened in 2009 inside the Oval Office? What worked and what failed? What is the president really like on the job and off-hours, using what his best friend called “a Rubik’s Cube in his brain?” These questions are answered here for the…[more]

Book:War (Sebastian Junger)

War

Sebastian Junger

In his breakout bestseller, The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger created “a wild ride that brilliantly captures the awesome power of the raging sea and the often futile attempts of humans to withstand it” (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now, Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat—the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.

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