Annal: 1995 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1995.

Book:The Beak of the Finch

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

Jonathan Weiner

On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. For among the finches of Daphne Major, natural selection is neither rare nor slow: it is taking place by the hour, and we can watch.In this dramatic story of groundbreaking scientific research, Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin’s finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself. The Beak of the Finch is an elegantly written and compelling masterpiece of theory and explication in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould.

Book:How We Die

How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter

Sherwin B. Nuland

There is a vast literature on death and dying, but there are few reliable accounts of the ways in which we die. The intimate accounts of how various diseases take away life offered in How We Die, is not meant to prompt horror or terror but to demythologize the process of dying. Though the avenues of death—AIDS, cancer, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, accident, and stroke—are common, each of us will die in a way different from any that has gone before. Each one of death’s diverse appearances is as distinctive as that singular face we each show during our lives. Behind each death is a story. In How We Die, Sherwin B. Nuland, a surgeon and teacher of medicine, tells some stories of dying that reveal not only why someone dies but how. He offers a portrait of the experience of dying that makes clear the choices that can be made to allow each of us his or her own death.

Book:Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story

John Berendt

Shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt’s sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of non-fiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the “soul of pampered self-absorption”;…[more]

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