General Nonfiction

Finalists have been announced since 1980.


2015 The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt)

An exploration of nature that forces readers to consider the threat posed by human behavior to a world of astonishing diversity.

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2014 Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (Bantam Books)

A book that deftly combines investigative reporting and historical research to probe a New Jersey seashore town’s cluster of childhood cancers linked to water and air pollution.

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2013 Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys by Gilbert King (Harper)

A richly detailed chronicle of racial injustice in the Florida town of Groveland in 1949, involving four black men falsely accused of rape and drawing a civil rights crusader, and eventual Supreme Court justice, into the legal battle.

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2012 The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton & Company)
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2011 The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner)

An elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science.

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2010 The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman (Doubleday)

A well documented narrative that examines the terrifying doomsday competition between two superpowers and how weapons of mass destruction still imperil humankind.

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2009 Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)

A precise and eloquent work that examines a deliberate system of racial suppression and that rescues a multitude of atrocities from virtual obscurity.

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2008 The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 by Saul Friedländer (HarperCollins)
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2007 The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright (Alfred A. Knopf)
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2006 Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins (Henry Holt)
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2005 Ghost Wars by Steve Coll (The Penguin Press)
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2004 Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum (Doubleday)
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2003 "A Problem From Hell:" America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power (Basic Books)
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2002 Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter (Simon & Schuster)
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2001 Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert P. Bix (HarperCollins)
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2000 Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II by John W. Dower (W.W. Norton & Company/The New Press)
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1999 Annals of the Former World by John McPhee (Farrar)
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1998 Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (W.W. Norton)
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1997 Ashes To Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, The Public Health, And The Unabashed Triumph Of Philip Morris by Richard Kluger (Alfred A. Knopf)
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1996 The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism by Tina Rosenberg (Random House)
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1995 The Beak Of The Finch: A Story Of Evolution In Our Time by Jonathan Weiner (Alfred A. Knopf)
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1994 Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days Of The Soviet Empire by David Remnick (Random House)
1993 Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills (Simon & Schuster)
1992 The Prize: The Epic Quest For Oil, Money & Power by Daniel Yergin (Simon & Schuster)
1991 The Ants by Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson (Belknap/Harvard University Press)
1990 And Their Children After Them by Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson (Pantheon)
1989 A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan (Random House)
1988 The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes (Simon and Schuster)
1987 Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land by David K. Shipler (Times Books)
1986 Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families by J. Anthony Lukas (Alfred A. Knopf)
1986 Move Your Shadow: South Africa, Black and White by Joseph Lelyveld (Times Books)
1985 The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two by Studs Terkel (Pantheon)
1984 The Social Transformation Of American Medicine by Paul Starr (Basic Books)
1983 Is There No Place On Earth For Me? by Susan Sheehan (Houghton Mifflin)
1982 The Soul of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder (Atlanti'Little)
1981 Fin-De Siecle Vienna: Politics And Culture by Carl E. Schorske (Knopf)
1980 Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter (Basic Books)
1979 On Human Nature by Edward O. Wilson (Harvard Univ. Press)
1978 The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan (Random House)
1977 Beautiful Swimmers by William W. Warner (Atlantic Little Brown)
1976 Why Survive? Being Old In America by Robert N. Butler (Harper)
1975 Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (Harper's Magazine Press)
1974 The Denial of Death by the late Ernest Becker (Free Press/Macmillan)
1973 Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam by Frances Fitzgerald (Little)
1973 Children of Crisis, Vols. II and III by Robert Coles (Little)
1972 Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945 by Barbara W. Tuchman (Macmillan)
1971 The Rising Sun by John Toland (Random)
1970 Gandhi's Truth by Erik H. Erikson (Norton)
1969 The Armies Of The Night by Norman Mailer (World)
1969 So Human An Animal by Rene Jules Dubos (Scribner)
1968 Rousseau And Revolution, The Tenth And Concluding Volume Of The Story Of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant (Simon & Schuster)
1967 The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture by David Brion Davis (Cornell Univ. Press)
1966 Wandering Through Winter by Edwin Way Teale (Dodd)
1965 O Strange New World by Howard Mumford Jones (Viking)
1964 Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter (Random)
1963 The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman (Macmillan)
1962 The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H. White (Atheneum)


2015 No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal (Metropolitan Books)

A remarkable work of nonfiction storytelling that exposes the cascade of blunders that doomed America’s misbegotten intervention in Afghanistan.

2015 Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The story of a vast country and society in the grip of transformation, calmly surveyed, smartly reported and portrayed with exacting strokes.

2014 The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary J. Bass (Alfred A. Knopf)

A disquieting exploration of the role played by the American president and his national security advisor in the 1971 Pakistani civil war, a bloodbath that killed hundreds of thousands and created millions of refugees.

2014 The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan (Simon & Schuster)

An engrossing look at how a tenacious general became the ringleader of efforts to reshape America’s military strategy in the post-Cold War age.

2013 Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (Random House)

An engrossing book that plunges the reader into an Indian slum in the shadow of gleaming hotels near Mumbai’s airport, revealing a complex subculture where poverty does not extinguish aspiration.

2013 The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature by David George Haskell (Viking)

A fascinating book that, for a year, closely follows the natural wonders occurring within a tiny patch of old-growth Tennessee forest.

2012 One Hundred Names For Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing by Diane Ackerman (W.W. Norton & Company)

A resilient author’s account of caring for a stricken husband, sharing fears and insights as she explores neurology and ponders the gift of words.

2012 Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl (Public Affairs)

An evocative, deeply researched book probing the causes and effects of a global imbalance in the gender ratio.

2011 The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (W.W. Norton & Company)

A thought provoking exploration of the Internet’s physical and cultural consequences, rendering highly technical material intelligible to the general reader.

2011 Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)

A memorable examination of the longest and most brutal of all the wars between European settlers and a single Indian tribe.

2010 How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities by John Cassidy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

A work that probes the complexity of the Great Recession, using solid research and precise documentation to reveal not only a gripping human drama but also a tense clash of ideas.

2010 The Evolution of God by Robert Wright (Little, Brown and Company)

A sweeping look at the origins and development of religious belief throughout human history.

2009 Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age by Arthur Herman (Bantam Books)

An authoritative, deeply researched book that achieves an extraordinary balance in weighing two mighty protagonists against each other.

2009 The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe by William I. Hitchcock (Free Press)

A heavily documented exploration of the overlooked suffering of noncombatants in the victory over Nazi Germany, written with the dash of a novelist and the authority of a scholar.

2008 The Cigarette Century by Allan Brandt (Basic Books)
2008 The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
2007 Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
2007 Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks (The Penguin Press)
2006 Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt (The Penguin Press)
2006 The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
2005 Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (Alfred A. Knopf)
2005 The Devil's Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea (Little)
2004 Rembrandt's Jews by Steven Nadler (The University of Chicago Press)
2004 The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military by Dana Priest (W.W. Norton)
2003 The Blank Slate: the Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker (Viking)
2003 The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit by Ellen Meloy (Pantheon Books)
2002 War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals by David Halberstam (Scribner)
2002 The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon (Scribner)
2001 Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover (Random House)
2001 A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (Simon & Schuster)
2000 The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest forthe Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene (W.W. Norton)
2000 Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul (North Point Press/Farrar)
1999 Crime and Punishment in America by Elliott Currie (Metropolitan Books)
1999 The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do by Judith Rich Harris (Free Press)
1998 Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (Villard)
1998 How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker (W.W. Norton)
1997 The Inheritance: How Three Families and America Moved from Roosevelt toReagan and Beyond by Samuel G. Freedman (Simon & Schuster)
1997 Fame and Folly by Cynthia Ozick (Alfred A. Knopf)
1996 Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and The Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett (Simon & Schuster)
1996 Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler (Pantheon)
1995 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story by John Berendt (Random House)
1995 How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland (Alfred A. Knopf)
1994 The End of the Twentieth Century: And the End of the Modern Age by John Lukacs (Ticknor & Fields)
1994 The Cultivation of Hatred: The Bourgeois Experience, Victoria to Freud by Peter Gay (W.W. Norton)
1993 A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War by Susan Griffin (Doubleday)
1993 Where the Buffalo Roam by Anne Matthews (Grove Weidenfeld)
1993 Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father by Richard Rodriguez (Viking)
1992 Broken Vessels by Andre Dubus (David R. Godine)
1992 Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics by Thomas Byrne Edsall and Mary D. Edsall (W.W. Norton & Company)
1991 River of Traps: A Village Life by William duBuys and Alex Harris (University of New Mexico)
1991 Looking for a Ship by John McPhee (Farrar Straus Giroux)
1990 A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East 1914-1922 by David Fromkin (Henry Holt & Company)
1990 Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History by Stephen Jay Gould (W.W. Norton & Company)
1989 Danger and Survival by McGeorge Bundy (Random House)
1989 Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris (William Morrow and Company)
1989 The Last Farmer by Howard Kohn (Summit Books)
1988 Setting Limits: Medical Goals in an Aging Society by Daniel Callahan (Simon and Schuster)
1988 Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick (Viking)
1987 Rain or Shine: A Family Memoir by Cyra McFadden (Alfred A. Knopf)
1987 Rising from the Plains by John McPhee (Farrar)
1986 Habits and the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life by Robert N. Bellah
1985 Dawn to the West by Donald Keene (Holt)
1985 Endless Enemies by Jonathan Kwitny (Congdon & Weed)
1984 Conversations With the Enemy by Winston Groom and Duncan Spencer (Putnam)
1984 Wild Justice by Susan Jacoby (Harper & Row)
1983 Terrorists and Novelists by Diane Johnson (Knopf)
1983 The Fate of the Earth by Jonathan Schell (Knopf)
1982 Basin and Range by John McPhee (Farrar)
1982 Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor by Diana Trilling (Harcourt Brace)
1981 Southerners: A Journalist's Odyssey by Marshall Frady (New American Library)
1981 China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston (Knopf)
1981 Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War by William Manchester (Little)
1980 The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar (Yale)
1980 The Medusa and the Snail by Lewis Thomas (Viking)