Honor roll: Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

Each of these books has been nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:A Problem from Hell

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

Samantha Power

A character-driven study of some of the darkest moments in our national history, when America failed to prevent or stop 20th-century campaigns to exterminate Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Iraqi Kurds, Bosnians, and Rwandans .

Drawing upon declassified cables, private papers, exclusive interviews with Washington’s top policy-makers, and her own reporting from the modern killing fields, Samantha Power tells the story of American indifference and American courage in the face of the worst massacres of the twentieth century.

In this masterful work of social history, Power examines how, in the five decades since the Holocaust, Americans have very rarely marshaled their might to stop genocide and mass terror. Indeed, she shows how the U.S. response to recent genocides bears striking resemblance to the American response to reports of Hitler’s Final Solution. By paying particular attention to the last…[more]

Book:Way Out There in the Blue

Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War

Frances FitzGerald

Way Out There in the Blue is a major work of history by the Pulitzer Prize­winning author of Fire in the Lake. Using the Star Wars missile defense program as a magnifying glass on his presidency, Frances FitzGerald gives us a wholly original portrait of Ronald Reagan, the most puzzling president of the last half of the twentieth century.

Reagan’s presidency and the man himself have always been difficult to fathom. His influence was enormous, and the few powerful ideas he espoused remain with us still—yet he seemed nothing more than a charming, simple-minded, inattentive actor. FitzGerald shows us a Reagan far more complex than the man we thought we knew. A master of the American language and of self-presentation, the greatest storyteller ever to occupy the Oval Office, Reagan created a compelling public persona that bore little relationship to himself.

The real Ronald Reagan—the Reagan who emerges from FitzGerald’s book—was a gifted politician with a deep understanding…[more]

Book:The Bin Ladens

The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century

Steve Coll

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the national bestseller Ghost Wars, Steve Coll presents the story of the Bin Laden family’s rise to power and privilege, revealing new information to show how American influences changed the family and how one member’s rebellion changed America.

The Bin Ladens rose from poverty to privilege; they loyally served the Saudi royal family for generations-and then one of their number changed history on September 11, 2001. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll tells the epic story of the rise of the Bin Laden family and of the wildly diverse lifestyles of the generation to which Osama bin Laden belongs, and against whom he rebelled. Starting with the family’s escape from famine at the beginning of the twentieth century through its jet-set era in America after the 1970s oil boom, and finally to the family’s attempts to recover from September 11, The Bin Ladens unearths…[more]

Book:The Dark Side

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

Jane Mayer

A dramatic and damning narrative account of how America has fought the “War on Terror”

In the days immediately following September 11th, the most powerful people in the country were panic-stricken. The radical decisions about how to combat terrorists and strengthen national security were made in a state of utter chaos and fear, but the key players, Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, used the crisis to further a long held agenda to enhance Presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment.

The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world—decisions that not only violated the Constitution to which White House officials…[more]

Book:Strange Piece of Paradise

Strange Piece of Paradise

Terri Jentz

In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, make a cross-country bike trip. They pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they are sleeping, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an ax. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, but Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with memories of the attack. Their friendship is shattered.

Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits she will make “to solve the crime that would solve me.” And she makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Slowly, her extensive interviews with the townspeople yield a terrifying revelation: many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth about the crime and…[more]

Book:Blue Blood (Edward Conlon)

Blue Blood

Edward Conlon

The life of a New York City police officer, with the NYPD running through his veins: a highly anticipated nonfiction epic—destined to be a classic.

Blue Blood is an important book about what it means to protect, to serve, and to defend among the ranks of New York’s finest. Conlon’s canvas is great and complicated—he is fourth generation NYPD—and the story he tells is impossibly rich: it presents an anecdotal history of New York through its police force, and depicts a vivid portrait of the teeming street life of the city in all its horror and splendor. It is a story about fathers and sons, partners who become brothers, old ghosts and undying legacies. Here you will see terms like loyalty, commitment, and honor come to life, in action, on a daily basis. With brio and a thrilling literary style, Conlon depicts his life on the force—from his first days walking a beat in the South Bronx, to his ascent to detective. The pace is relentless, the stories hypnotic, the scope nothing less than grand. Blue Blood is a bona fide literary masterpiece.

Book:Columbine (Dave Cullen)

Columbine

Dave Cullen

On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma City-style, and to leave “a lasting impression on the world.” Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence, irrevocable branding every subsequent shooting “another columbine.”

When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window, the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to the prom three days earlier and obsessed about…[more]

Book:The Forever War (Filkins)

The Forever War

Dexter Filkins

From the front lines of the battle against Islamic fundamentalism, a searing, unforgettable book that captures the human essence of the greatest conflict of our time.

Through the eyes of Dexter Filkins, the prizewinning New York Times correspondent whose work was hailed by David Halberstam as “reporting of the highest quality imaginable,” we witness the remarkable chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Filkins’s narrative moves across a vast and various landscape of amazing characters and astonishing scenes: deserts, mountains, and streets of carnage; a public amputation performed by Taliban; children frolicking in minefields; skies streaked white by the contrails of B-52s; a night’s sleep in the rubble of Ground Zero. …[more]

Book:Night Draws Near

Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War

Anthony Shadid

Like her country, Karima—a widow with eight children—was caught between America and Saddam. It was March 2003 in proud but battered Baghdad. As night drew near, she took her son to board a rickety bus to join Hussein’s army. “God protect you,” she said, handing him something she could not afford to give—the thirty-cent fare.

The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid also went to war in Iraq although he was neither embedded with soldiers nor briefed by politicians. Because he is fluent in Arabic, Shadid—an Arab American born and raised in Oklahoma—was able to disappear into the divided, dangerous worlds of Iraq. Day by day, as the American dream of freedom clashed with Arab notions of justice, he pieced together the human story of ordinary Iraqis weathering the terrible dislocations and tragedies of war.

Through the lives of men and women, Sunnis and Shiites, American sympathizers and outraged young jihadists newly transformed…[more]

Book:Strength in What Remains

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness

Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, and the enduring classic Mountains Beyond Mountains, has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” In this new book, Kidder gives us the superb story of a hero for our time. Strength in What Remains is a wonderfully written, inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him–a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances.

Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, plagued by horrific dreams, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the…[more]

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