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L.A. Times book prizes: current interest nominees

March 12, 2009 | 11:37 am


The L.A. Times Book Prizes Current Interest category is dominated by issues of war. There is one book about Afghanistan and Iraq, one about Dick Cheney and Iraq, one about the Bin Laden family, and one about the American response to terrorism. And then there's a book about the brain. Here is more about each of the nominees.

"The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century," which our review described as "stunningly researched and grippingly told," is by Steve Coll, head of the New America Foundation. In this clip from the 92nd Street Y, he explains how Osama bin Laden ended up with 53 half-siblings. 

Dexter Filkins' book "The Forever War" was described by our reviewer as "likely to be regarded as the definitive account of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were experienced by those who actually waged them." Filkins moves between photos, the text from his book and a casual discussion in this appearance at Google books.

Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist, explains that one morning, she woke up and "could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life." She recovered, obviously, because she went on to write "My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey." In this TED talk, she not only discusses the content of her book but also brings out a real human brain, and the audience squirms. 

Barton Gellman appears on MSNBC to talk about "Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency," which, our reviewer writes, has created a narrative of Cheney's tenure that provides "immensely valuable clarity and perspective." In this clip, Keith Olbermann asks about Cheney selecting himself as vice president after chairing the search committee and more.

In "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals," Jane Mayer "does a superb job of describing how the trauma of 9/11 all but unhinged Bush and Cheney and predisposed the chief executive to embrace the ready-made unitary executive theory of presidential power," our reviewer writes. In this clip, she does her best to answer some very long questions from Charlie Rose (Philip Gourevitch pitches in with some answers).

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Barnett (right) from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, leads his team up a ridge line during a dismounted patrol near Forward Operation Base Lane in Zabul province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 26, 2009. Credit: Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini / U.S. Army, released via Flickr.