General Nonfiction

Finalists have been announced since 1980.


2015 Elizabeth Kolbert The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

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 Dan Fagin Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation

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 Gilbert King Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys

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 Stephen Greenblatt The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
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2011 Siddhartha Mukherjee The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

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

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

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


2015 Anand Gopal No Good Men Among the Living

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

2015 Evan Osnos Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

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

2014 Gary J. Bass The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide

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 Fred Kaplan The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

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 Katherine Boo Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

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 David George Haskell The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

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

2012 Diane Ackerman One Hundred Names For Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing

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 Mara Hvistendahl Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men

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

2011 Nicholas Carr The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

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

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

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

2010 John Cassidy How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities

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 Robert Wright The Evolution of God

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

2009 Arthur Herman Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age

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

2009 William I. Hitchcock The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe

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