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LA Times Book Prize Nominees: Soldiers & Shock Doctrines

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LA Times Book Prize Current Interest Nominees

As the LA Times Book Prize award ceremony looms ever-closer, we're taking a look at the books nominated in each category. As we mentioned yesterday, unlike other big literary awards, the LA Times Book Prize winners are never a sure thing, which is what makes following them all the more fun.

The nominees in the Current Interest category this year are interesting indeed:

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The Current Interest category is often the trickiest, as in years past it has pitted fashion books against political books and everything in between. Yet this year, three of the five nominated books examine the lives of soldiers (some children, some men) and two of the nominated books tackle politics and economic policy. So for the first year in a long time, this category is shaping up to be a pretty fair contest.
Our gut take on the winner? Ishmael Beah's memoir of his life as a soldier in Sierra Leone at the age of 12. Beah, now twenty-five, recounts his harrowing escape and rehabilitation as he deals with the long-term effects of the violence he both encountered and delivered at his own hands. This is the heart-string book, the book that you simply cannot read without feeling the pain. Beah's writing is honest and his story is shocking. These are the hallmark elements of a winner in this category and we think it will be enough to beat Samet's fascinating look at West Point soldiers.

Yet, we are a consummate fan of Tom Bissell's gorgeous prose and would love to see him walk away with top honors. We're also inclined to think that if it comes down to the very popular Shock Doctrine by Klein or Brown's more studied look at our nation's partisanship, The Second Civil War will win out. Klein may be the popular girl, but Brown's book contains less hype and more meat. If politics interest you at all, his look at how partisanship in this country has accentuated our differences rather than bringins us together, is well worth your time.

The LA Times Book Prizes will be awarded on April 25th.

Previously: LA Times Book Prize Nominees of the Fictional Sort