The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books began in 1996 with a simple goal: to bring together the people who create books with the people who love to read them. The festival was an immediate success and has become the largest and most prestigious book festival in the country, attracting more than 130,000 book lovers each year.

Steven J. Ross is professor of history and chairman of the history department at USC. He has written several books in the areas of working-class history, social history and film history. Ross is the author of Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics.

Mark Arax is an award-winning author and journalist. He is a contributing writer at Los Angeles magazine and a former senior writer at the Los Angeles Times. Arax's recent title is West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State. Arax teaches nonfiction writing at Claremont McKenna College.

Scott Martelle is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer. His book Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West explores the uprising of coal miners against political and economic corruption in the early-20th century American West.

Jim Newton is the editor of the Los Angeles Times' Editorial pages. He shared in the Pulitzer prizes awarded to the Los Angeles Times for coverage of the 1992 riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. He is the author of Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made.

Deanne Stillman's best-selling book Twentynine Palms was called "a strange and brilliant story by an important American writer" by Hunter S. Thompson. Stillman's most recent book, Mustang, examines the wild horse in the culture, history and popular imagination of the American West. Stillman lives in Los Angeles.

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