Introducing the 2013 Gelber Prize finalists: today's nominees, Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor

Over the next few weeks, we're going to be featuring one interview per day with the authors of the books nominated for this year's Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the year's best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs. The award is sponsored by the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto in cooperation with Foreign Policy. The interviews are conducted by Rob Steiner, former Wall Street Journal correspondent and director of fellowships in international journalism at the Munk School.

Today's authors are Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor. Here's the jury's citation for The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama:

The nature of Barack Obama's thought-process and leadership is well illuminated in The Endgame by Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor. This is the tale of a delicate dance out of Iraq by American forces, beginning with George W. Bush's support of a ‘surge' of U.S. forces into a growing civil war, and the decision by Barack Obama to leave but a skeleton of U.S. forces behind. In between, the authors document the many shifts in policy and people on the American side, even as Iraq's government teeters between uneasy compromise and incipient collapse. The relevance of this book to events in Afghanistan today is striking.

Listen to the interview here.


The best videos of the Chelyabinsk meteor

This morning, Russians in Chelyabinsk, an industrial city 950 miles east of Moscow, were jolted awake when a meteor exploded in the sky, producing shockwaves that shattered windows, set off car alarms, and injured at least 500 people. The meteor was traveling at 19 miles per second, according to Russian authorities, before exploding mid-air, likely as a result of the immense heat generated as a large object speeds through the atmosphere.

On the ground in Chelyabinsk, Russians witnessed a scene that must have seemed ripped out of an apocalyptic film, as a bright, flaming object suddenly appeared in the sky, streaked across the horizon, and unleashed a bone-rattling shockwave. The extraordinary developments were captured on video, in part through the automobile dash-cams that are nearly ubiquitous in Russia.

Below, we've compiled a selection of some of the best videos of the meteor shower, along with translations of the reactions of the stunned Russians on the ground. 

At 1:40, the speaker says that there was an extremely bright flash going across the sky. Once the blast can be heard he says, "What the hell? ... Something fell. Do you hear? You know what that was? It was supersonic. It must have been an asteroid, and that's the blast wave." At 2:38, the speaker exclaims, "What the fuck?" They look at the broken windows and say it's like something out of the war. Then, another speaker says, "It must have been a rocket or something." While they're cursing up a storm, one of his friends says, "It must have been the Chinese!"

The video below gives a sense of the magnitude of the blast's shockwave.

This video, shot across the border from Kazakhstan about 200 miles from Chelyabinsk, shows how far from the city the meteoroid could be seen.

The blast blew out windows in Chelyabinsk. The closed-circuit video below gives a sense of how many Chelyabinsk residents likely experienced the meteoroid.

This video of a street in Chelyabinsk, which doesn't capture the direct path of the meteoroid, shows how the meteoroid lit up the street, casting a veritable klieg light on an entire city block.

This video compilation shows how residents experienced the meteroid across the city, and includes footage from a Chelyabinsk school right after the explosion was felt on the ground.