The National Book Critics Circle Awards have announced their shortlists for books published in 2011.
“Founded in 1974, the NBCC is a nonprofit organization of book reviewers and critics that honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature, in part through annual awards for the year’s outstanding books. Books are directly nominated and chosen by leading book critics. The NBCC thus offers the unique opportunity for professional critics to recognize and reward literary excellence.”
The nominees in the non-fiction category are:
Liberty’s Exile: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War (M)
by Maya Jasanoff
“In this lucidly told and engaging work, Jasanoff examines the loyalist diaspora following the American Revolution in which both white and black adherents to the British scattered across the empire to various locations including Nova Scotia, Jamaica, and Sierra Leone and attempted to reconstruct their lives in the face of tremendous obstacles.
Combining compelling narrative with insightful analysis, Jasanoff has produced a work that is both distinct in perspective and groundbreaking in its originality. Strongly recommended for both students of the Revolutionary Atlantic world and British Empire generalists.”- Library Journal
Pulphead: essays (M)
by John Jeremiah Sullivan
“A sharp-eyed, uniquely humane tour of America’s cultural landscape–from high to low to lower than low–by the award-winning young star of the literary nonfiction world. In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us–with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that’s all his own–how we really (no, really) live now.” – Publisher
The Information: a history, a theory, a flood (M)
by James Gleick
“Acutely sensitive to the human drama involved in pioneering thought and discovery, best-selling science and technology writer Gleick has developed an epic sense of humankind’s quest for mastery of information, the vital principle. In this tour de force, the first book to fully chronicle the story of information and how it has transformed human thought and life, Gleick follows the path from the ingenious codes used by African drummers to the invention of the alphabet and writing, which made possible deep analysis and logic, the bedrock for information theory.
This is intellectual history of tremendous verve, insight, and significance. Unfailingly spirited, often poetic, Gleick recharges our astonishment over the complexity and resonance of the digital sphere and ponders our hunger for connectedness. Destined to be a science classic, best-seller Gleick’s dynamic history of information will be one of the biggest nonfiction books of the year.” – Booklist
A World on Fire: Britain’s crucial role in the American Civil War (M)
by Amanda Foreman
“Whitbread Prize winner Foreman weighs in with a big book rich in description and strong in narrative, with a large cast of characters that includes British nobles and American statesmen jockeying for power, British journalists reporting the war, and Englishmen and Irishmen fighting, respectively, with the Union and Confederate armies in what they regarded as noble causes. Foreman’s special strength is tracking the social relationships that bound together, or estranged, the movers and shakers in London and Washington, with keen insights on the political maneuverings that kept England out of the war.
The result is a very good read and a grand panorama of the war on land and sea, in the press, and in drawing rooms and public assemblies on both sides of the Atlantic” – Library Journal
To End All Wars: a story of loyalty and rebellion, 1914-1918 (M)
by Adam Hochschild
“World War I stands as one of history’s most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation. In a riveting, suspenseful narrative with haunting echoes for our own time, Adam Hochschild brings it to life as never before. He focuses on the long-ignored moral drama of the war’s critics, alongside its generals and heroes. Thrown in jail for their opposition to the war were Britain’s leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and an editor who, behind bars, published a newspaper for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. These critics were sometimes intimately connected to their enemy hawks: one of Britain’s most prominent women pacifist campaigners had a brother who was commander in chief on the Western Front. Two well-known sisters split so bitterly over the war that they ended up publishing newspapers that attacked each other. Today, hundreds of military cemeteries spread across the fields of northern France and Belgium contain the bodies of millions of men who died in the “war to end all wars.” Can we ever avoid repeating history?”- Publisher