Annal: 1980 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1980.

Book:The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff

Tom Wolfe

When the future began…

The men had it. Yeager. Conrad. Grissom. Glenn. Heroes. The first Americans in space… battling the Russians for control of the heavens… putting their lives on the line.

The women had it. While Mr. Wonderful was aloft, it tore your heart out that the Hero’s Wife, down on the ground, had to perform with the whole world watching the TV Press Conference: “What’s in your heart? Do you feel with him while he’s in orbit?”

The Right Stuff. It’s the quality beyond bravery, beyond courage. It’s men like Chuck Yeager, the greatest test pilot of all and the fastest man on earth. Pete Conrad, who almost laughed himself out of the running. Gus Grissom, who almost lost it when his capsule sank. John Glenn, the only space traveler whose apple-pie image wasn’t a lie.

Book:The Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard

Peter Matthiessen

When Peter Matthiessen set out with the field biologist George Schaller from Pokhara, in northwest Nepal, their hope was to reach the Crystal Mountain—a foot journey of 250 miles or more across the Himalaya—in the Land of Dolpo, on the Tibetan plateau. Since they wished to observe the late-autumn rut of the bharal, or Himalayan blue sheep, they undertook their trek as winter snows were sweeping into the high passes, and five weeks were required to reach their destination.

At Shey Compaa, a very ancient Buddhist shrine on the Crystal Mountain, the Lama had forbidden all killing of wild animals, and bharal were said to be numberous and easily observed. Where they were numerous there was bound to appear that rarest and most beautiful of the great cats, the snow leopard. Hope of glimpsing this near-mythic beast in the snow mountains would be reason enough for the entire journey. …[more]

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