Annal: 1996 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1996.

Book:The Haunted Land

The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism

Tina Rosenberg

In four newly democratic countries in Eastern Europe, communism’s former victims and jailers are struggling to make sense of their history -- and sometimes rewrite it. In this groundbreaking, stylishly reported book, a journalist travels across the battlefields of memory and asks: Who is guilty? How should they be punished? And who is qualified to judge them in states where almost every citizen was an accomplice?

In East Germany, Tina Rosenberg follows the trial of the border guards charged with the last shooting at the Berlin Wall. In the Czech Republic, she meets a heroic dissident who has now been ostracized for having once cooperated with the old regime. In Poland, she speaks with General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the one-time architect of martial law who now presents himself as his country’s savior. Out of these stories of conscience and complicity, courage and optimism, The Haunted Land delivers the final chapter of the greatest moral drama of our time.

Book:Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

Daniel C. Dennett

In a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls “one of the most provocative thinkers on the planet,” focuses his unerringly logical mind on the theory of natural selection, showing how Darwin’s great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of humanity’s place in the universe. Dennett vividly describes the theory itself and then extends Darwin’s vision with impeccable arguments to their often surprising conclusions, challenging the views of some of the most famous scientists of our day.

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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