Special Collections

National Book Award Winners - Non-Fiction

Description: The National Book Awards are presented annually "to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America." Here we present the Non-Fiction medal winners. #award #adults


Showing 1 through 25 of 81 results
 

Age of Ambition

by Evan Osnos

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award in nonfiction. An Economist Best Book of 2014. A vibrant, colorful, and revelatory inner history of China during a moment of profound transformation From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy-or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don't see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes  As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals-fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture-consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth? Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2014

All God's Dangers

by Theodore Rosengarten

Classic of oral history tells the life story of Nate Shaw, an illiterate black sharecropper who stood up against white farmers in the 1930's and spent time in prison for it. Includes much folklore and information about rural life.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1975

An American Requiem

by James Carroll

An American Requiem is the story of one man's coming of age. But more than that, it is a coming to terms with the conflicts that disrupted many families, inflicting personal wounds that were also social, political, and religious. Carroll grew up in a Catholic family that seemed blessed. His father had abandoned his own dream of becoming a priest to rise through the ranks of Hoover's FBI and then become one of the most powerful men in the Pentagon, the founder of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Young Jim lived the privileged life of a general's son, dating the daughter of a vice president and meeting the pope, all in the shadow of nuclear war, waiting for the red telephone to ring in his parents' house. He worshiped his father until Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, turmoil in the Catholic Church, and then Vietnam combined to outweigh the bond between father and son. These were issues on which they would never agree. Only after Carroll left the priesthood to become a writer and husband with children of his own did he come to understand fully the struggles his father had faced. In this work of nonfiction, the best-selling novelist draws on the skills he honed with nine much-admired novels to tell the story he was, literally, born to tell. An American Requiem is a benediction on his father's lief, his family's struggles, and the legacies of an entire generation.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1996

American Sphinx

by Joseph J. Ellis

For a man who insisted that life on the public stage was not what he had in mind, Thomas Jefferson certainly spent a great deal of time in the spotlight--and not only during his active political career. After 1809, his longed-for retirement was compromised by a steady stream of guests and tourists who made of his estate at Monticello a virtual hotel, as well as by more than one thousand letters per year, most from strangers, which he insisted on answering personally. In his twilight years Jefferson was already taking on the luster of a national icon, which was polished off by his auspicious death (on July 4, 1826); and in the subsequent seventeen decades of his celebrity--now verging, thanks to virulent revisionists and television documentaries, on notoriety--has been inflated beyond recognition of the original person.

For the historian Joseph J. Ellis, the experience of writing about Jefferson was "as if a pathologist, just about to begin an autopsy, has discovered that the body on the operating table was still breathing." In American Sphinx, Ellis sifts the facts shrewdly from the legends and the rumors, treading a path between vilification and hero worship in order to formulate a plausible portrait of the man who still today "hover[s] over the political scene like one of those dirigibles cruising above a crowded football stadium, flashing words of inspiration to both teams." For, at the grass roots, Jefferson is no longer liberal or conservative, agrarian or industrialist, pro- or anti-slavery, privileged or populist. He is all things to all people. His own obliviousness to incompatible convictions within himself (which left him deaf to most forms of irony) has leaked out into the world at large--a world determined to idolize him despite his foibles.

From Ellis we learn that Jefferson sang incessantly under his breath; that he delivered only two public speeches in eight years as president, while spending ten hours a day at his writing desk; that sometimes his political sensibilities collided with his domestic agenda, as when he ordered an expensive piano from London during a boycott (and pledged to "keep it in storage"). We see him relishing such projects as the nailery at Monticello that allowed him to interact with his slaves more palatably, as pseudo-employer to pseudo-employees. We grow convinced that he preferred to meet his lovers in the rarefied region of his mind rather than in the actual bedchamber. We watch him exhibiting both great depth and great shallowness, combining massive learning with extraordinary naïveté, piercing insights with self-deception on the grandest scale. We understand why we should neither beatify him nor consign him to the rubbish heap of history, though we are by no means required to stop loving him. He is Thomas Jefferson, after all--our very own sphinx.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1997

Anarchy, State, and Utopia

by Robert Nozick

In this brilliant and widely acclaimed book, winner of the 1975 National Book Award, Robert Nozick challenges the most commonly held political and social positions of our age?liberal, socialist, and conservative.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1975

Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy 1833-1845

by Robert V. Remini

Volume III of Robert V. Remini's biography of Andrew Jackson.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1984

Arc of Justice

by Kevin Boyle

An electrifying story of the sensational murder trial that divided a city and ignited the civil rights struggle

In 1925, Detroit was a smoky swirl of jazz and speakeasies, assembly lines and fistfights. The advent of automobiles had brought workers from around the globe to compete for manufacturing jobs, and tensions often flared with the KKK in ascendance and violence rising. Ossian Sweet, a proud Negro doctor-grandson of a slave-had made the long climb from the ghetto to a home of his own in a previously all-white neighborhood. Yet just after his arrival, a mob gathered outside his house; suddenly, shots rang out: Sweet, or one of his defenders, had accidentally killed one of the whites threatening their lives and homes.

And so it began-a chain of events that brought America's greatest attorney, Clarence Darrow, into the fray and transformed Sweet into a controversial symbol of equality. Historian Kevin Boyle weaves the police investigation and courtroom drama of Sweet's murder trial into an unforgettable tapestry of narrative history that documents the volatile America of the 1920s and movingly re-creates the Sweet family's journey from slavery through the Great Migration to the middle class. Ossian Sweet's story, so richly and poignantly captured here, is an epic tale of one man trapped by the battles of his era's changing times.

Arc of Justice is the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2004

Arctic Dreams

by Barry Holstun Lopez

This National Book Award winner examines the Far North - its terrain, wildlife, and history of the Eskimo natives and intrepid explorers who arrived on its icy shores. What turns this compendium of biology, anthropology and history into a breathtaking study of profound originality is Lopez's unique meditation on how the landscape can shape our imagination, desires and dreams.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1986

The Armies of the Night

by Norman Mailer

October 21, 1967. Washington DC. Protesters are marching to end the war in Vietnam, Mailer among them. From his perception of the day comes a work that shatters traditional reportage.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1969

Becoming a Man

by Paul Monette

Paul Monette's National Book Award-winning memoir hailed as a classic coming-out story

Paul Monette grew up all-American, Catholic, overachieving... and closeted. As a child of the 1950s, a time when a kid suspected of being a "homo" would routinely be beaten up, Monette kept his secret throughout his adolescence. He wrestled with his sexuality for the first thirty years of his life, priding himself on his ability to "pass" for straight. The story of his journey to adulthood and to self-acceptance with grace and honesty, this intimate portrait of a young man's struggle with his own desires is witty, humorous, and deeply felt.

Before his death of complications from AIDS in 1995, Monette was an outspoken activist crusading for gay rights. Becoming a Man shows his courageous path to stand up for his own right to love and be loved.This ebook features an illustrated biography of Paul Monette including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the Paul Monette papers of the UCLA Library Special Collections.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1992

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

by Katherine Boo

In this brilliant, breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. As India starts to prosper, the residents of Annawadi are electric with hope.

Abdul, an enterprising teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Meanwhile Asha, a woman of formidable ambition, has identified a shadier route to the middle class. With a little luck, her beautiful daughter, Annawadi’s “most-everything girl,” might become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest children, like the young thief Kalu, feel themselves inching closer to their dreams.

But then Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power, and economic envy turn brutal.

With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects people to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on years of uncompromising reporting, carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget.

Winner of the National Book Award | The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award | The Los Angeles Times Book Prize | The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award | The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times • The Washington Post • O: The Oprah Magazine • USA Today • New York • The Miami Herald • San Francisco Chronicle • Newsday NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Wall Street Journal • The Boston Globe • The Economist • Financial Times • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • Foreign Policy • The Seattle Times • The Nation • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Denver Post • Minneapolis Star Tribune • Salon • The Plain Dealer • The Week • Kansas City Star • Slate • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Date Added: 03/15/2019


Year: 2012

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

Winner of the National Book Award

Winner of the 2016 Alex Award (10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences)

Nominee for the 2018 Young Reader's Choice Award (Pacific Northwest Library Association)

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2015

The Briar Patch

by Murray Kempton

American justice...and the violent fears that underscore it...is the theme of Murray Kempton's brilliant examination of the landmark trial of a group of young men and women who came to be called the Panther 21.

At five o'clock in the morning of April 2, 1969, approximately 100 members of the Special Services Division of the New York City Police Dept. were dispatched to capture 19 of the 21 persons,' many of them Black Panthers,' who had been indicted for arson, conspiracy and attempted murder.

The narrative of 'The Briar Patch' explores both the mechanics of the police undercover operations that brought the Panthers to the bar, and those of their highly publicized trial. What especially distinguishes this book is the way Kempton illustrates each of the contending forces...prosecution, defense, member of the jury...acting out this great human drama from their own angle of alienation.

As Mr. Kempton states, 'A man's spirit can be marked most clearly in its passage from the reform to the revolutionary impulse at the moment when he decides that his enemy will no longer write his history.' The furious heroics and posturings of the defendants in this extraordinary trial grew out of one such moment of self-determination. That moment, a watershed of American history, is recorded in 'The Briar Patch.'

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1974

A Bright Shining Lie

by Neil Sheehan

Outspoken and fearless, John Paul Vann arrived in Vietnam in 1962, full of confidence in America's might and right to prevail. A Bright Shining Lie reveals the truth about the war in Vietnam as it unfolded before Vann's eyes: the arrogance and professional corruption of the U.S. military system of the 1960s, the incompetence and venality of the South Vietnamese army, the nightmare of death and destruction that began with the arrival of the American forces. Witnessing the arrogance and self-deception firsthand, Vann put his life and career on the line in an attempt to convince his superiors that the war should be fought another way. But by the time he died in 1972, Vann had embraced the follies he once decried. He went to his grave believing that the war had been won.

A haunting and critically acclaimed masterpiece, A Bright Shining Lie is a timeless account of the American experience in Vietnam–a work that is epic in scope, piercing in detail, and told with the keen understanding of a journalist who was actually there. Neil Sheehan' s classic serves as a stunning revelation for all who thought they understood the war.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1988

Bruce Catton's Civil War

by Bruce Catton

Infinitely readable and absorbing, Bruce Catton's "The Civil War" is one of the best-selling, most widely read general histories of the war, now available in a single ominbus volume. The Civil War vividly traces one of the most moving chapters in American history, from the early division between the North and the South to the final surrender of Confederate troops. Catton's account of battles is carefully interwoven with details about the political activities of the Union and Confederate armies and diplomatic efforts overseas.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1954

China

by Fox Butterfield

In 1979 Fox Butterfield became the first New York Times correspondent in China in 30 years. He wrote this book about his experiences during the two years he was a correspondent there.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1983

China Men

by Maxine Hong Kingston

The author chronicles the lives of three generations of Chinese men in America, woven from memory, myth and fact. Here's a storyteller's tale of what they endured in a strange new land.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1981

Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality

by John Boswell

John Boswell's study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the early Christian West was a groundbreaking work that challenged preconceptions about the Church's past relationship to its gay members--among them priests, bishops, and even saints--when it was first published twenty-five years ago. The historical breadth of Boswell's research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of sources consulted make this one of the most extensive treatments of any single aspect of Western social history. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, still fiercely relevant today, helped form the disciplines of gay and gender studies, and it continues to illuminate the origins and operations of intolerance as a social force.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1981

The City in History

by Lewis Mumford

The city's development from ancient times to the modern age. Winner of the National Book Award. "One of the major works of scholarship of the twentieth century" (Christian Science Monitor). Index; illustrations.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1962

The Classical Style

by Charles Rosen

This book treating the three most beloved composers of the Vienna School is considered basic to any study of classical-era music. Drawing on his rich experience and intimate familiarity with the works of these giants, Charles Rosen presents his keen insights in clear and persuasive language.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1972

Common Ground

by J. Anthony Lukas

Two working-class families and a middle-class family in Boston are portrayed, starting with Martin Luther King Jr's assassination.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1985

Eleanor and Franklin

by Joseph P. Lash

In his extraordinary biography of the major political couple of the twentieth century, Joseph P. Lash reconstructs from Eleanor Roosevelt's personal papers her early life and four-decade marriage to the four-time president who brought America back from the Great Depression and helped to win World War II. The result is an intimate look at the vibrant private and public worlds of two incomparable people.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1972

Embracing Defeat

by John W. Dower

Drawing on a vast range of Japanese sources and illustrated with dozens of astonishing documentary photographs, Embracing Defeat is the fullest and most important history of the more than six years of American occupation, which affected every level of Japanese society, often in ways neither side could anticipate. Dower, whom Stephen E. Ambrose has called "America's foremost historian of the Second World War in the Pacific," gives us the rich and turbulent interplay between West and East, the victor and the vanquished, in a way never before attempted, from top-level manipulations concerning the fate of Emperor Hirohito to the hopes and fears of men and women in every walk of life. Already regarded as the benchmark in its field, Embracing Defeat is a work of colossal scholarship and history of the very first order. John W. Dower is the Elting E. Morison Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for War Without Mercy.

Winner of the National Book Award.

Pulitzer Prize Winner

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1999

The Enlightenment

by Peter Gay

The eighteenth-century Enlightenment marks the beginning of the modern age, when the scientific method and belief in reason and progress came to hold sway over the Western world. In the twentieth century, however, the Enlightenment has often been judged harshly for its apparently simplistic optimism. Now a master historian goes back to the sources to give a fully rounded account of its true accomplishments.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1967

Fire in the Lake

by Frances Fitzgerald

This landmark work, based on Frances FitzGerald's own research and travels, takes us inside Vietnam into the traditional, ancestor-worshiping villages and the corrupt crowded cities, into the conflicts between Communists and anti-Communists, Catholics and Buddhists, generals and monks and reveals the country as seen through Vietnamese eyes.

With a clarity and authority unrivaled by any book before it or since, Fire in the Lake shows how America utterly and tragically misinterpreted the realities of Vietnam.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1973


Showing 1 through 25 of 81 results