The Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It has been presented since 1962 for a distinguished book of non-fiction by an American author, published during the preceding calendar year, that is not eligible for consideration in another category.
Finalists have been announced from 1980, ordinarily two others beside the winner.
In its first 52 years to 2013, the Nonfiction Pulitzer was awarded 55 times; two prizes were given in 1969, 1973, and 1986. Two people won the prize as co-authors in 1968, 1990, and 1991. Barbara Tuchman and E.O. Wilson have won two Nonfiction prizes each.
The finalists are indented, ordinarily two each year.
Two people have won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction twice.
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China is a non-fiction book by Evan Osnos, a staff writer at The New Yorker. It was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2014. It chronicles the lives of people that Osnos came to know while he was in China from 2005 to 2013. It was awarded the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.Annals of the Former World
Annals of the Former World is a book on geology written by John McPhee and published in 1998 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.The book presents a geological history of North America, and was researched and written over the course of two decades beginning in 1978. It consists of a compilation of five books, the first four of which were previously published as Basin and Range (1981), In Suspect Terrain (1983), Rising from the Plains (1986), and Assembling California (1993), plus a final book, Crossing the Craton. A narrative table of contents provides an overview of the project, which largely consisted of a series of road journeys by McPhee across the North American continent in the company of noted geologists.Annie Dillard
Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945) is an American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published works of poetry, essays, prose, and literary criticism, as well as two novels and one memoir. Her 1974 work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. From 1980, Dillard taught for 21 years in the English department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut.Caroline Elkins
Caroline Elkins (born 1969) is a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and the founding director of Harvard's Center for African Studies.Her book, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (2005), won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. It was also the basis for successful claims by former Mau Mau detainees against the British government for crimes committed in the detention camps of Kenya in the 1950s.Dan Fagin
Dan Fagin (born February 1, 1963) is an American journalist who specializes in environmental science. He won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his best-selling book Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation. Toms River also won the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, the National Academies Communication Award, and the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award of the Society of Environmental Journalists, among other literary prizes.David Brion Davis
David Brion Davis (February 16, 1927 – April 14, 2019) was an American intellectual and cultural historian, and a leading authority on slavery and abolition in the Western world. He was a Sterling Professor of History at Yale University, and founder and director of Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.
Davis authored or edited 17 books. His books emphasize religious and ideological links among material conditions, political interests, and new political values. Ideology, in his view, is not a deliberate distortion of reality or a façade for material interests; rather, it is the conceptual lens through which groups of people perceive the world around them. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books.Davis received the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Barack Obama in 2014 for "reshaping our understanding of history." He also received the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for lifetime achievement in contributions to public understanding of racism and appreciation of cultural diversity, and the 2015 Biennial Coif Book Award, a top honor from the Association of American Law Schools for the leading law-related book published in 2013 and 2014.
After serving on the Cornell University faculty for 14 years, Davis taught at Yale from 1970 to 2001. He held one-year appointments as the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at Oxford University (1969-1970), at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and as the first French-American Foundation Chair in American Civilization at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.E. O. Wilson
Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929), usually cited as E. O. Wilson, is an American biologist, theorist, naturalist and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he has been called the world's leading expert.Wilson has been called "the father of sociobiology" and "the father of biodiversity", for his environmental advocacy, and his secular-humanist and deist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters. Among his greatest contributions to ecological theory is the theory of island biogeography, which he developed in collaboration with the mathematical ecologist Robert MacArthur, which was the foundation of the development of conservation area design, as well as the unified neutral theory of biodiversity of Stephen Hubbell.
Wilson is the Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, a lecturer at Duke University, and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism. He is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (for On Human Nature in 1979, and The Ants in 1991) and a New York Times bestselling author for The Social Conquest of Earth, Letters to a Young Scientist, and The Meaning of Human Existence.In a Different Key
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism is a book by John Donvan and Caren Zucker. The book covers the history of autism and autism advocacy. Issues that they discuss include the Refrigerator mother theory and the possibility of an autism epidemic. One autistic individual they cover in particular is Donald Triplett. Another point they covered was psychiatrist Leo Kanner. This book has additionally discussed the debate concerning the neurodiversity movement, especially with respect to low-functioning autistics.James Forman Jr.
James Forman Jr. (born James Robert Lumumba Forman on June 22, 1967) is an American legal scholar and Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He is the author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, published in 2017 and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, and a co-founder of the Maya Angelou School in Washington, D.C.John W. Dower
John W. Dower (born June 21, 1938 in Providence, Rhode Island) is an American author and historian. His 1999 book Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II won the U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction, the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, the Bancroft Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and the John K. Fairbank Prize of the American Historical Association.Dower earned a bachelor's degree in American Studies from Amherst College in 1959, and a Ph.D. in History and Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University in 1972, where he studied under Albert M. Craig. He expanded his doctoral dissertation, a biography of former Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, into the book Empire and Aftermath. His other books include a selection of writings by E. Herbert Norman and a study of mutual images during World War II entitled War Without Mercy.
Dower was the executive producer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima, and was a member of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, sitting on the editorial board of its journal with Noam Chomsky, and Herbert Bix. He has taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of California, San Diego, and is a Ford International Professor of History, Emeritus, at MIT.Matthew Desmond
Matthew Desmond is an American sociologist who is a professor in the department of sociology at Princeton University.The Ants
The Ants is a zoology textbook by the German entomologist Bert Hölldobler and the American entomologist E. O. Wilson, first published in 1990. It won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1991.The Story of Civilization
The Story of Civilization, by husband and wife Will and Ariel Durant, is an 11-volume set of books covering Western history for the general reader.
The series was written over a span of more than four decades. It totals four million words across nearly 10,000 pages, with 2 further books in production at the time of the authors' deaths. In the first volume (Our Oriental Heritage, which covers the history of the Middle East and Orient to 1933), Will Durant stated that he wanted to include the history of the West to the early 20th century. However, the series ends with The Age of Napoleon because the Durants both died – she in her 80s and he in his 90s – before they could complete additional volumes. They also left behind notes for a 12th volume, The Age of Darwin, and an outline for a 13th, The Age of Einstein, which would have taken The Story of Civilization to 1945.
The first six volumes of The Story of Civilization are credited to Will Durant alone, with Ariel recognized only in the Acknowledgements. Beginning with The Age of Reason Begins, Ariel is credited as a co-author.
The series won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 with the 10th volume in the series, Rousseau and Revolution.
In the preface to the first volume, Durant states his intention to make the series in 5 volumes, although this would not turn out to be the case.
The volumes sold well for many years, and sets of them were frequently offered by book clubs. An unabridged audiobook production of all eleven volumes was produced by the Books on Tape company and was read by Alexander Adams (aka Grover Gardner).Tracy Kidder
John Tracy Kidder (born November 12, 1945) is an American writer of nonfiction books. He received the Pulitzer Prize for his The Soul of a New Machine (1981), about the creation of a new computer at Data General Corporation. He has received praise and awards for other works, including his biography of Paul Farmer, a doctor and anthropologist, titled Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003).
Kidder is considered a literary journalist because of the strong story line and personal voice in his writing. He has cited as his writing influences John McPhee, A. J. Liebling, and George Orwell. In a 1984 interview he said, "McPhee has been my model. He's the most elegant of all the journalists writing today, I think."Kidder wrote in a 1994 essay, "In fiction, believability may have nothing to do with reality or even plausibility. It has everything to do with those things in nonfiction. I think that the nonfiction writer's fundamental job is to make what is true believable."Walter Irvin
Walter Lee Irvin (May 8, 1927 - February 16, 1969), a United States Army veteran of World War II, was one of the so-called Groveland Four—four young African-American men of Lake County, Florida who, in a racially charged case, were accused of raping and assaulting a white woman. Three of the young men were convicted: Irvin was sentenced to death, as was another of the defendants; the third, a minor, was sentenced to life in prison. The fourth had fled after being accused, but a few days later and 200 miles away, was caught by a posse and shot to death without arrest or trial.
Their conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States, but Irvin and another of the young men were shot by the Sheriff while being transported; only Irvin survived. Irvin was tried and convicted a second time, his death sentence later commuted to life imprisonment, and he was eventually released only to be found dead a year later under questionable circumstances.
In 2016, all four were exonerated by the State of Florida. Their story is the subject of Gilbert King's winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America."Will Durant
William James "Will" Durant (; November 5, 1885 – November 7, 1981) was an American writer, historian, and philosopher. He became best known for his work The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife, Ariel Durant, and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for The Story of Philosophy (1926), described as "a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy".He conceived of philosophy as total perspective or seeing things sub specie totius (a phrase inspired by Spinoza's sub specie aeternitatis). He sought to unify and humanize the great body of historical knowledge, which had grown voluminous and become fragmented into esoteric specialties, and to vitalize it for contemporary application.The Durants were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.William W. Warner
William W. Warner (April 2, 1920 – April 18, 2008) was an American biologist and writer. He was awarded the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his first book Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay, which was based on his experiences living and working among crab fishermen on the Chesapeake.
Warner was a 1943 graduate of Princeton University. During World War II, Warner served in the Pacific Theater of operations as an aerial photograph analyst with a Marine air group.