Annal: 1990 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1990.

Book:The House of Morgan

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

Ron Chernow

The House of Morgan is the most ambitious history ever written about an American banking dynasty. Hailed as an investigative masterpiece, it traces the trajectory of the J. P. Morgan empire from its obscure beginnings in Victorian London to the crash of 1987 and beyond. A rich, panoramic story of four generations of Morgans and the powerful, secretive firms they spawned, it is the definitive account of the rise of the modern financial world.

From the period glamor of the late nineteenth century to secret alliances during both world wars, The House of Morgan is studded with startling revelations about the men and women—Henry Ford, Franklin Roosevelt, Nancy Astor, Winston Churchill, Adnan Khashoggi, Paul Volcker, and many others—who have transformed the financial and political world in the past 150 years.

Book:Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga

Steven Naifeh, Gregory White Smith

Based on family letters and documents, lengthy interviews with his widow, Lee Krasner, as well as his psychologists and psychoanalysts, this book explodes the myths surrounding his death in 1956.

Book:Richard Milhous Nixon

Richard Milhous Nixon: The Rise of an American Politician

Roger Morris

Roger Morris’s image-shattering narrative enables today’s reader to understand the developing character of our thirty-seventh President. The biography can also be read as vintage social and political history with a distinctly California flavor—informed by raucous speculators, fortune-seekers, Wobblies, movie moguls, and vigilantes, and by the utopian reforms of Upton Sinclair, Hiram Johnson’s isolationism, Earl Warren’s honor, even John Steinbeck’s Joads.

Among the stories is the surprising courtship of Pat, with its equally revelatory portrait of the future First Lady; Nixon’s long-obscured prewar politics; his government and wartime military service; the seminal congressional campaign of 1946 and the legendary Senate campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas, set against the period’s anticommunist hysteria. And, for sheer drama, the Alger Hiss case is certain to surprise and shock even aficionados of that career-making episode. Likewise, the young prodigal’s…[more]

Book:Righteous Pilgrim

Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold L. Ickes, 1874-1952

Tom H. Watkins

Harold Le Clair Ickes made his first reputation as a newsman in Chicago’s gilded era. He made his second as a mover and shaker in the Progressive Party. And he made his third as our longest-serving and most influential Interior Secretary and one of the most volatile of FDR’s New Dealers. Now Watkins brings to life this prototypical American.

Book:Small Victories

Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, and Their High School

Samuel G. Freedman

Small Victories is Samuel Freedman’s remarkable story of life on the front lines in the sort of high school that seems like a disaster with walls—old, urban, overcrowded, and overwhelmingly minority. Seaward Park High School, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, has been ranked among the worst 10 percent of high schools in the state—yet 92 percent of its graduates go on to higher education. The reason is dedicated teachers, one of whom, English instructor Jessica Siegel, is the subject of Freedman’s unforgettably dramatic humanization of the education crisis. Following Siegel through the 1987-88 academic year, Freedman not only saw a master at work but learned from the inside just how a school functions against impossible odds. Small Victories alternates Jessica’s experiences with those of others at Seaward Park, and as we cone to know intimately a number of the astonishing students and staff, Small Victories reveals itself as a book that has the power to change the way we see our world.

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