Annal: 1991 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1991.

Book:The Ants

The Ants

Bert Hölldobler, Edward O. Wilson

This landmark work, the distillation of a lifetime of research by the world’s leading myrmecologists, is a thoroughgoing survey of one of the largest and most diverse groups of animals on the planet. Hölldobler and Wilson review in exhaustive detail virtually all topics in the anatomy, physiology, social organization, ecology, and natural history of the ants. In large format, with almost a thousand line drawings, photographs, and painting, it is one of the most visually rich and all-encompassing view of any group of organisms on earth. It will be welcomed both as an introduction to the subject and as an encyclopedia reference for researchers in entomology, ecology, and sociobiology.

Book:Looking for a Ship

Looking for a Ship

John McPhee

This is an extraordinary tale of life aboard what may be one of the last American merchant ships. As the story begins, Andy Chase, who holds a license as a second mate is looking for a ship. In less than ten years, the United States Merchant Marine has shrunk from more than two thousand ships to fewer than four hundred, and Chase faces the scarcity of jobs from which all American merchant mariners have been suffering.

With John McPhee along, Chase finds a job as a second mate aboard the S.S. Stella Lykes, captained by the extraordinary Paul McHenry Washburn. The journey takes them on a forty-two day run down the Pacific coast of South America, with stops to unload and pick up freight at such ports as Cartagena, Valparaiso, Balboa, Lima, and Guayaquil—an area notorious for pirates. As the crew make their ocean voyage, they tell sea stories of other runs and other ships, tales of disaster, stupidity, greed, generosity, and courage. Through the journey itself and the tales told emerge the history and character of a fascinating calling.

Book:River of Traps: A Village Life

River of Traps: A Village Life

William deBuys, Alex Harris

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Evans Biography Award in 1990, River of Traps is a portrait in words and photographs of three men and the mountain village in northern New Mexico that shaped their lives. It is now available in a paperback edition that maintains the oversize format and duotone printing.

River of Traps is unlike any other book I know. In its brilliant verbal and photographic portrait of a complicated ‘simple’ man and his place in the world, it achieves an astounding richness and depth. Yet it never strays from the clear straight lines of human story—a man lives a hard good life and dies; two friends recall him. The reader who won’t be moved and instructed is likely far past human reach; Tolstoy would have loved and honored it.”—Reynolds Price

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