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Finalists for the 1992-1993 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes : HISTORY

September 05, 1993|MARJORIE LEWELLYN MARKS | Marjorie Lewellyn Marks is manager of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and a contributing author of "Life Guidance Through Literature" (American Library Assn.)

THE IMMOBILE EMPIRE by Alain Peyrefitte, translated by Jon Rothschild (Alfred A. Knopf). An account of the misadventures of the British expedition in 1793 that attempted to open China to Western trade. Diplomat-historian Peyrefitte gained unprecedented entree to the Imperial Archives of Beijing's Forbidden City to gather the details for this colorful reenactment of the decisive confrontation between East and West, which becomes a comparative study of the two cultures, each believing itself the world's most civilized. The cultural impasse reached its most amusing expression when the British ambassador refused to perform the ritual abasement of the traditional Chinese kowtow and the maneuverings that surrounded the incident. This is an extremely detailed day-to-day account that may tax the endurance of non-historians.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists and winners are selected in each category by an independent panel of judges. Winners will be announced in the Book Review issue of October 31.

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