Annal: 1991 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1991.

Book:Freedom: Volume 1. Freedom in the Making of Western Culture

Freedom: Volume 1. Freedom in the Making of Western Culture

Orlando Patterson

This magisterial work traces the history of our most cherished value. Patterson links the birth of freedom in primitive societies with the institution of slavery, and traces the evolution of three forms of freedom in the West from antiquity through the Middle Ages.

Book:Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton: A Biography

Diane Wood Middlebrook

Anne Sexton began writing poetry at the age of twenty-nine to keep from killing herself. She held on to language for dear life and somehow — in spite of alcoholism and the mental illness that ultimately led her to suicide — managed to create a body of work that won a Pulitzer Prize and that still sings to thousands of readers. This exemplary biography, which was nominated for the National Book Award, provoked controversy for its revelations of infidelity and incest and its use of tapes from Sexton’s psychiatric sessions. It reconciles the many Anne Sextons: the 1950s housewife; the abused child who became an abusive mother; the seductress; the suicide who carried “kill-me pills” in her handbag the way other women carry lipstick; and the poet who transmuted confession into lasting art.

Book:The Jameses

The Jameses: A Family Narrative

R.W.B. Lewis

Even if the James family hadn’t given us both William the philosopher and psychologist, and Henry the novelist, the story of this quirky, wealthy, socially prominent clan would still be riveting. Full of incidents that would become legendary, The Jameses brings to life 150 years of unforgettable American history. Four 8-page inserts.

Book:Praying for Sheetrock

Praying for Sheetrock: A Work of Nonfiction

Melissa Fay Greene

Somehow, the sweeping changes of the civil rights movement had bypassed rural McIntosh County, Georgia. In the 1970s, the white sheriff there still wielded all power; he controlled everyone and everything. It took one uneducated, unemployed black man with a passion for justice to take him on and win, changing life in McIntosh County forever. Praying for Sheetrock is about that one man, his victory and his utlimate fall from grace.

Book:Why Americans Hate Politics

Why Americans Hate Politics: The Death of the Democratic Process

E.J. Dionne

All over the United States, Americans are deserting the political process. Why? In this national bestseller, one of our shrewdest political observers traces thirty years of volatile political history and finds that on point after point, liberals and conservatives are framing issues as a series of “false choices,” making it impossible for politicians to solve problems, and alienating voters in the process. Now with a new afterword discussing the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and the 1992 presidential election, Dionne explores what has gone wrong with the American system and offers a back-to-basics approach to politics designed to respond to the anger of America’s restive majority.

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