Annal: 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 1995.

Book:A Civil Action

A Civil Action

Jonathan Harr

Two of the nation’s largest corporations stand accused of causing the deaths of children. Representing the bereaved parents, the unlikeliest of heroes emerges: a young, flamboyant Porsche-driving lawyer who hopes to win millions of dollars and ends up nearly losing everything—including his sanity.

A Civil Action is the searing, compelling tale of a legal system gone awry—one in which greed and power fight an unending struggle against justice. Yet it is also the story of how one man can ultimately make a difference. With an unstoppable narrative power reminiscent of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, A Civil Action is an unforgettable reading experience that leaves the reader both shocked and enlightened.

Book:All God's Children

All God's Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of Violence

Fox Butterfield

Considered by many to be the most dangerous inmate in the history of the New York penal system, Willie Bosket is a brilliant, violent man who began his criminal career at age five. His slaying of two subway riders at fifteen led to the passage of the first law in the nation allowing teenagers to be tried as adults. Yet sadly, Willie is not an aberration within the Bosket family—but rather the latest in a long line of brutal, exceptionally intelligent malefactors who were driven by circumstances, racism, and a distinctly American craving for respect by any means necessary.

In this groundbreaking work, award-winning journalist Fox Butterfield traces a troubled family’s history back to the days of slavery in an attempt to get to the roots of the violence endemic in our society.

Book:A Gentle Madness

A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books

Nicholas A. Basbanes

The passion to possess books has never been more widespread than it is today; indeed, obsessive book collecting remains the only hobby to have a disease named after it. A Gentle Madness, finalist for the 1995 National Book Critics Circle award, is an adventure among the afflicted. Richly anecdotal and fully documented, it combines the perspective of historical research with the immediacy of investigative journalism. Above all, it is a celebration of books and the people who have revered, gathered, and preserved them over the centuries.

Book:In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle

In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle: A True Story of Hoop Dreams and One Very Special Team

Madeleine Blais

Begun as an article in the New York Times Magazine, In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle offers a close-up of the girls on a high school basketball team whose passion for the sport is rivaled only by their loyalty to one another. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Madeleine Blais’s book takes the reader through a season in the history of the Lady Hurricanes of Amherst, Massachusetts, from tryouts and practices during the regular season up through the final championship game. The result is a moving narrative that captures the complexities of girls’ experiences in high school, sports, and society. It is a compelling and touching literary exploration of one group of girls’ fight for success and respect… and a dramatization of the success of the women’s movement and a testimony to all the changes yet to come.

Book:Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

Lawrence Weschler

A nondescript storefront operation in Los Angeles, California, the Museum of Jurassic Technology actually exists—that may be the only thing about it that is for certain. The creation of David Wilson, a man of prodigiously unusual imagination, the museum is crammed full of some of the most astonishingly unbelievable marvels known to man. Visitors to the museum continually find themselves caught between wondering at the marvels of craft and nature that are on display and wondering whether any of this could possibly be true. Indeed, Wilson’s true subject seems to be wonder itself, the delicious human capacity for astonishment and absorption out of which all true creativity arises.

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder begins as a simple investigation of the tiny storefront in southern California and spirals out into a consideration of the origins of all modern museums in the wonder-cabinets of the sixteenth century, the generative role of pure imagination in both art and science, the mystifying bases of the authoritative in every field, and, not least, the actual existence and profound significance of human horns.

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