Awardpedia
Enrich people's lives with award-winning
books, music, movies, gadgets, toys & more

National Book Critics Circle Award

The National Book Critics Circle Award is an annual award given by the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) to promote the finest books and reviews published in English.

The main awards fall into six categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Memoir/Autobiography, Biography, and Criticism. Awards are not given to titles that have been previously published in English, such as re-issues and paperback editions. They also do not "consider cookbooks, self help books (including inspirational literature), reference books, picture books or children's books." Titles are, however, eligible to be awarded if they are "translations, short story and essay collections, self published books, and any titles that fall under the general categories above." The NBCC membership elects a 24 person all volunteer Board of Directors to nominate and judge books for the awards and guide all day-to-day activities.

(from National Book Critics Circle Site, wikipedia.org)

View as
Sort by

"A Problem From Hell": America And The Age Of Genocide

From the Armenian Genocide to the ethnic cleansings of Kosovo and Darfur, modern history is haunted by acts of brutal violence. Yet American leaders who vow never again repeatedly fail to stop genocide. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, "A Problem from Hell" draws upon exclusive interviews with Washingtons top policymakers, thousands of once classified documents, and accounts of reporting from the killing fields to show how decent Americans inside and outside government looked away from mass murder. Combining spellbinding history and seasoned political analysis, "A Problem from Hell" allows readers to hear directly from American decision-makers and dissenters, as well as from victims of genocide, and reveals just what was known and what might have been done while millions perished.

During the three years (1993-1996) Samantha Power spent covering the grisly events in Bosnia and Srebrenica, she became increasingly frustrated with how little the United States was willing to do to counteract the genocide occurring there. After much research, she discovered a pattern: "The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred," she writes in this impressive book. Debunking the notion that U.S. leaders were unaware of the horrors as they were occurring against Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Iraqi Kurds, Rwandan Tutsis, and Bosnians during the past century, Power discusses how much was known and when, and argues that much human suffering could have been alleviated through a greater effort by the U.S. She does not claim that the U.S. alone could have prevented such horrors, but does make a convincing case that even a modest effort would have had significant impact. Based on declassified information, private papers, and interviews with more than 300 American policymakers, Power makes it clear that a lack of political will was the most significant factor for this failure to intervene. Some courageous U.S. leaders did work to combat and call attention to ethnic cleansing as it occurred, but the vast majority of politicians and diplomats ignored the issue, as did the American public, leading Power to note that "no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on." This powerful book is a call to make such indifference a thing of the past. --Shawn Carkonen

A Civil Action

PartNumber: 9780679772675
"The legal thriller of the decade." --Cleveland Plain Dealer

Now a Major Motion Picture!

In this true story of an epic courtroom showdown, two of the nation's largest corporations stand accused of causing the deaths of children. Representing the bereaved parents, the unlikeliest of heroes emerges: a young, flamboyant Porsche-driving lawyer who hopes to win millions of dollars and ends up nearly losing everything, including his sanity. A searing, compelling tale of a legal system gone awry--one in which greed and power fight an unending struggle against justice--A Civil Action is also the story of how one determined man can ultimately make a difference. With an unstoppable narrative power, it is an unforgettable reading experience.
In America, when somebody does you wrong, you take 'em to court. W. R. Grace and Beatrice Foods had been dumping a cancer-causing industrial solvent into the water table of Woburn, Massachusetts, for years; in 1981, the families of eight leukemia victims sued. However, A Civil Action demonstrates powerfully that--even with the families' hotshot lawyers and the evidence on their side--justice is elusive, particularly when it involves malfeasance by megacorporations. Much of the legal infighting can cause the eyes to glaze. But the story is saved by great characters: the flawed, flamboyant Jan Schlichtmann and his group of bulldogs for the prosecution; Jerome Facher, the enigmatic lawyer for Beatrice, who proves to be more than a match; John J. Riley, the duplicitous, porcine tannery owner; and a host of others. It's impossible not to feel the drama of this methodical book, impossible not to grieve for the parents who lost children, and impossible not to share Schlichtmann's desperation as he runs out of money. A Civil Action reads like one long advertisement for a few well-placed Molotov cocktails. (But that wouldn't make for a very long book, now would it?)

A Visit From the Goon Squad

PartNumber: 9780307477477
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive.Sasha isthe passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is astartling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

National Bestseller
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year:Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR's On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Op...

PartNumber: 9780375726262
J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war, and who later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress. In this magisterial, acclaimed biography twenty-five years in the making, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin capture Oppenheimers life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War. This is biography and history at its finest, riveting and deeply informative.
In American Prometheus, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin delve deep into J. Robert Oppenheimer's life and deliver a thorough and devastatingly sad biography of the man whose very name has come to represent the culmination of 20th century physics and the irrevocable soiling of science by governments eager to exploit its products. Rich in historical detail and personal narratives, the book paints a picture of Oppenheimer as both a controlling force and victim of the mechanisms of power.

By the time the story reaches Oppenheimer's fateful Manhattan Project work, readers have been swept along much as the project's young physicists were by fate and enormous pressure. The authors allow the scientists to speak for themselves about their reactions to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, avoiding any sort of preacherly tone while revealing the utter, horrible ambiguity of the situation. For instance, Oppenheimer wrote in a letter to a friend, "The thing had to be done," then, "Circumstances are heavy with misgiving."

Many biographies of Oppenheimer end here, with the seeds of his later pacifism sown and the dangers of mixing science with politics clearly outlined. But Bird and Sherwin devote the second half of this hefty book to what happened to Oppenheimer after the bomb. For a short time, he was lionized as the ultimate patriot by a victorious nation, but things soured as the Cold War crept forward and anti-communist witchhunts focused paranoia and anti-Semitism onto Oppenheimer, destroying his career and disillusioning him about his life's work. Devastated by the atom bomb's legacy of fear, he became a vocal and passionate opponent of the Strangelovian madness that gripped the world because of the weapons he helped develop.

Twenty-five years of research went into creating American Prometheus, and there has never been a more honest and complete biography of this tragic scientific giant. The many great ironies of Oppenheimer's life are revealed through the careful reconstruction of a wealth of records, conversations, and ideas, leaving the clearest picture yet of his life. --Therese Littleton

Angela's Ashes

An Irish-American writer recalls his childhood amid the miseries of Limerick; originally published in 1996.

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

PartNumber: 9780307345424
Skillfully Probing the Attack on Womens Rights

Opting-out, security moms, desperate housewives, the new baby feverthe trend stories of 2006 leave no doubt that American women are still being barraged by the same backlash messages that Susan Faludi brilliantly exposed in her 1991 bestselling book of revelations. Now, the book that reignited the feminist movement is back in a fifteenth anniversary edition, with a new preface by the author that brings backlash consciousness up to date.

When it was first published, Backlash made headlines for puncturing such favorite media myths as the infertility epidemic and the man shortage, myths that defied statistical realities. These willfully fictitious media campaigns added up to an antifeminist backlash. Whatever progress feminism has recently made, Faludis words today seem prophetic. The media still love stories about stay-at-home moms and the dangers of womens career ambitions; the glass ceiling is still low; women are still punished for wanting to succeed; basic reproductive rights are still hanging by a thread. The backlash clearly exists.

With passion and precision, Faludi shows in her new preface how the creators of commercial culture distort feminist concepts to sell products while selling women downstream, how the feminist ethic of economic independence is twisted into the consumer ethic of buying power, and how the feminist quest for self-determination is warped into a self-centered quest for self-improvement. Backlash is a classic of feminism, an alarm bell for women of every generation, reminding us of the dangers that we still face.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Faludi lays out a two-fold thesis in this aggressive work: First, despite the opinions of pop-psychologists and the mainstream media, career-minded women are generally not husband-starved loners on the verge of nervous breakdowns. Secondly, such beliefs are nothing more than anti-feminist propaganda pumped out by conservative research organizations with clear-cut ulterior motives. This backlash against the women's movement, she writes, "stands the truth boldly on its head and proclaims that the very steps that have elevated women's positions have actually led to their downfall." Meticulously researched, Faludi's contribution to this tumultuous debate is monumental and it earned the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction.

Bad Land: An American Romance

A New York Times Editors' Choice for Book of the Year
Winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award
Winner of the PEN West Creative Nonfiction Award


"No one has evoked with greater power the marriage of land and sky that gives this country both its beauty and its terror. "
--Washington Post Book World

In 1909 maps still identified eastern Montana as the Great American Desert.But in that year Congress, lobbied heavily by railroad companies, offered 320-acre tracts of land to anyone bold or foolish enough to stake a claim to them. Drawn by shamelessly inventive brochures, countless homesteaders--many of them immigrants--went west to make their fortunes. Most failed. In Bad Land, Jonathan Raban travels through the unforgiving country that was the scene of their dreams and undoing, and makes their story come miraculously alive.

In towns named Terry, Calypso, and Ismay (which changed its name to Joe, Montana, in an effort to attract football fans), and in the landscape in between, Raban unearths a vanished episode of American history, with its own ruins, its own heroes and heroines, its own hopeful myths and bitter memories. Startlingly observed, beautifully written, this book is a contemporary classic of the American West.

"Exceptional. . . .A beautifully told historical meditation. "
--Time

"Championship prose. . . .In fifty years don't be surprised if Bad Land is a landmark."
--Los Angeles Times
Jonathan Raban ambles and picks his way across the Montana prairie, called "The Great American Desert" until Congress offered 320-acre tracts of barren land to immigrants with stardust in their eyes. Raban's prose makes love to the waves of land, red dirt roads, and skeletons of homesteads that couldn't survive the Dirty Thirties. As poignant as any romance novel, there's heartbreak in the failed dreams of the homesteaders, a pang of destiny in the arbitrary way railroad towns were thrown into existence, and inspiration in the heroism of people who've fashioned lives for themselves by cobbling together homes from the ruined houses of those who couldn't make it. Through it all, Raban's voice examines and honors the vast open expanses of land and pays homage to the histories of families who eked out an existence.

Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World

In this award-winning biography, the editor of the most popular edition of The Canterbury Tales re-creates the public, private, and poetic life and times of this extraordinary man. 16-page photo insert.

Cheever: A Life

John Cheever spent much of his career impersonating a perfect suburban gentleman, the better to become one of the foremost chroniclers of postwar America. Written with unprecedented access to essential sourcesincluding Cheevers massive journal, only a fraction of which has ever been publishedBaileys Cheever is a stunning example of the biographers art and a brilliant tribute to an essential author.
Amazon Best of the Month, March 2009: In Blake Bailey's monumental, masterful, and, at nearly 800 pages, mammoth biography, Cheever: A Life, the author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates turns his attention to the "the Chekhov of the suburbs" and his storied, celebrated, and deeply tortured life. Written with compassion and the full cooperation of Cheever's widow, Mary, and their three children, Cheever is rich with detail and chronicles the mournful arc of a lifetime struggling with a core duplicity that ached throughout his writing life--despite a 41-year marriage, Cheever was a closeted bisexual who simmered with self-loathing. Bailey covers the author's childhood, his time in the army, his life as a writer and his literary rivals (Salinger, in particular, seemed to irritate him), his alcoholism (he would struggle against taking that first "scoop" of gin from the pantry every morning while he was writing), and his struggle to play the role of suburban family man. The book is peppered with literary cameos: Updike, Bellow, and Roth are there, along with his Iowa Writers' Workshop students T.C. Boyle, Ron Hansen, and Allan Gurganus. (While at Iowa Cheever made it a weekly ritual to watch Monday Night Football and eat homemade pasta with fellow instructor John Irving.) Bailey also edited two Library of America editions of Cheever's stories and novels published to coincide with his biography. This literary hat trick will no doubt spark a well-deserved Cheever renaissance honoring his legacy as an American master. --Brad Thomas Parsons

Children's Literature: A Reader's History, From Aesop To Har...

PartNumber: 9780226473017

Ever since children have learned to read, there has been childrens literature. Childrens Literature charts the makings of the Western literary imagination from Aesops fables to Mother Goose, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Peter Pan, from Where the Wild Things Are to Harry Potter.

The only single-volume work to capture the rich and diverse history of childrens literature in its full panorama, this extraordinary book reveals why J. R. R. Tolkien, Dr. Seuss, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beatrix Potter, and many others, despite their divergent styles and subject matter, have all resonated with generations of readers. Childrens Literature is an exhilarating quest across centuries, continents, and genres to discover how, and why, we first fall in love with the written word.

Lerer has accomplished something magical. Unlike the many handbooks to childrens literature that synopsize, evaluate, or otherwise guide adults in the selection of materials for children, this work presents a true critical history of the genre. . . . Scholarly, erudite, and all but exhaustive, it is also entertaining and accessible. Lerer takes his subject seriously without making it dull.Library Journal (starred review)

Lerers history reminds us of the wealth of literature written during the past 2,600 years. . . . With his vast and multidimensional knowledge of literature, he underscores the vital role it plays in forming a childs imagination. We are made, he suggests, by the books we read.San Francisco Chronicle

There are dazzling chapters on John Locke and Empire, and nonsense, and Darwin, but Lerers most interesting chapter focuses on girls fiction. . . . A brilliant series of readings.Diane Purkiss, Times Literary Supplement


Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three Amer...

PartNumber: 9780394746166
Winner of 3 different awards, this is a story of the busing crisis in Boston.
The climax of this humane account of 10 years in Boston that began with news of Martin Luther King's assassination, is a watershed moment in the city's modern history--the 1974 racist riots that followed the court-ordered busing of kids to integrate the schools. To bring understanding to that moment, Lukas, a former New York Times journalist, focuses on two working-class families, headed by an Irish-American widow and an African-American mother, and on the middle-class family of a white liberal couple. Lukas goes beyond stereotypes, carefully grounding each perspective in its historical roots, whether in the antebellum South, or famine-era Ireland. In the background is the cast of public figures--including Judge Garrity, Mayor White, and Cardinal Cushing--with cameo roles in this disturbing history that won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.

Day By Day

Number of discs: 1
Rated:
Model: 2015323
PartNumber: 075678378928
Day By Day is Yolanda Adams' truest testimonial of perseverance and faith to date. Inspirational messages, mixed with melody and praise, this album promises to be a record you will treasure. From 'Alwaysness' and 'Be Blessed', both produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, to title track 'Day By Day', Yolanda takes you through a journey of life. Atlantic. 2005.
It is possible that there are singers alive today with more passion, conviction and beauty than Yolanda Adams working in gospel today, but it's doubtful. It's been a full four years since the glory-giving soprano has released a new album of her own music, and it's actually worth the wait. The banging funk tunes are tight and righteous, while the ballads will knock you clean off your feet. There are a host of guest artists on Day By DayMary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, and others, as well as a half dozen of the hottest producers around. And all of that is cool, but none of them are really that necessary. This woman truly has been blessed with enormous talent, and she uses it judiciously and wisely. In fact, Day By Day is easily the best contemporary gospel album of 2005. --Mike McGonigal

De Kooning: An American Master

PartNumber: 9780375711169
Willem de Kooning is one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, a true painters painter whose protean work continues to inspire many artists. In the thirties and forties, along with Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollock, he became a key figure in the revolutionary American movement of abstract expressionism. Of all the painters in that group, he worked the longest and was the most prolific, creating powerful, startling images well into the 1980s.

The first major biography of de Kooning captures both the life and work of this complex, romantic figure in American culture. Ten years in the making, and based on previously unseen letters and documents as well as on hundreds of interviews, this is a fresh, richly detailed, and masterful portrait. The young de Kooning overcame an unstable, impoverished, and often violent early family life to enter the Academie in Rotterdam, where he learned both classic art and guild techniques. Arriving in New York as a stowaway from Holland in 1926, he underwent a long struggle to become a painter and an American, developing a passionate friendship with his fellow immigrant Arshile Gorky, who was both a mentor and an inspiration. During the Depression, de Kooning emerged as a central figure in the bohemian world of downtown New York, surviving by doing commercial work and painting murals for the WPA. His first show at the Egan Gallery in 1948 was a revelation. Soon, the critics Harold Rosenberg and Thomas Hess were championing his work, and de Kooning took his place as the charismatic leader of the New York schooljust as American art began to dominate the international scene.

Dashingly handsome and treated like a movie star on the streets of downtown New York, de Kooning had a tumultuous marriage to Elaine de Kooning, herself a fascinating character of the period. At the height of his fame, he spent his days painting powerful abstractions and intense, disturbing pictures of the female figureand his nights living on the edge, drinking, womanizing, and talking at the Cedar bar with such friends as Franz Kline and Frank OHara. By the 1960s, exhausted by the feverish art world, he retreated to the Springs on Long Island, where he painted an extraordinary series of lush pastorals. In the 1980s, as he slowly declined into what was almost certainly Alzheimers, he created a vast body of haunting and ethereal late work.

This is an authoritative and brilliant exploration of the art, life, and world of an American master.


From the Hardcover edition.
Gossipier than any tabloid, as scholarly as Vasari, luminously illustrated and illuminating as a lightning bolt, Stevens' and Swan's landmark biography is one of the most stunning art books I've seen in seven years of Amazon.com reviewing--a masterpiece that explains how the Dutchman de Kooning became the master painter of the American century. It's a page-turning tale: raised by a mom who beat him with wooden shoes, de Kooning escaped Rotterdam as a stowaway on a freighter and found a second family in New York's rampageous art bohemia. He subsisted on ketchup and booze, and broke through around 1950 with dazzling abstract expressionist canvases inspired by what was in the air: cubism, surrealism, jazz, and film noir. The careerist thing to do would've been to ride the Ab Ex tsunami, but de Kooning stubbornly defied purist abstraction with the startlingly quasi-figurative Woman paintings. Stevens and Swan artfully show how much went into these notorious works. De Kooning's Woman is "part vamp, part tramp," a Hollywood pinup girl with push-up bazooms, a dirty joke and a scary goddess based on a Mexican deity to whom hearts were sacrificed. She is also part Mom and part Elaine de Kooning, his artist/muse wife, and the numberless women he juggled.

He called himself a "slipping glimpser," and this book helps us see what he saw. Nobody has ever made de Kooning's slippery meanings and painstaking techniques clearer, in every phase, even the mysterious late paintings evincing the artist's advancing Alzheimer's-like illness. Now I finally get what essentially distinguished de Kooning from his rivalrous pals Gorky and Pollock, and more. I also know what de Kooning was like in bed (loud), how he managed to cheat on five steady lovers at a time(different doorbell codes), why he slept drunk in gutters even after he got rich, and how deeply he loved and how coldly he used women. Stevens and Swan manage to do what no dame ever did: they pin down his oblique soul. --Tim Appelo

Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper

The ostensible purpose of a library is to preserve the printed word. But for fifty years our countrys librariesincluding the Library of Congresshave been doing just the opposite, destroying hundreds of thousands of historic newspapers and replacing them with microfilm copies that are difficult to read, lack all the color and quality of the original paper and illustrations, and deteriorate with age.

With meticulous detective work and Bakers well-known explanatory power, Double Fold reveals a secret history of microfilm lobbyists, former CIA agents, and warehouses where priceless archives are destroyed with a machine called a guillotine. Baker argues passionately for preservation, even cashing in his own retirement account to save one important archiveall twenty tons of it. Written the brilliant narrative style that Nicholson Baker fans have come to expect, Double Fold is a persuasive and often devastating book that may turn out to be The Jungle of the American library system.

Edith Wharton: A Biography

PartNumber: 9780880640206
This an American writer."--The New York Times Book Review.
Disclaimer: All trademarks remain property of their respective holders, and are used solely to directly describe the products being provided.
Their use in no way indicates any relationship between Awardpedia.com and the holders of said trademarks.