Annal: 1997 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1997.

Book:Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris

Richard Kluger

No book before this one has rendered the story of cigarettes—mankind’s most common self-destructive instrument and its most profitable consumer product—with such sweep and enlivening detail. Here for the first time, in a story full of the complexities and contradictions of human nature, all the strands of the historical process—financial, social, psychological, medical, political, and legal—are woven together in a riveting narrative. The key characters are the top corporate executives, public health investigators, and antismoking activists who have clashed ever more stridently as Americans debate whether smoking should be closely regulated as a major health menace.

We see tobacco spread rapidly from its aboriginal sources in the New World 500 years ago, as it becomes increasingly viewed by some as sinful and some as alluring, and by government as a windfall source of tax revenue. With the arrival of the cigarette…[more]

Book:Fame & Folly

Fame & Folly: Essays

Cynthia Ozick

From one of America’s great literary figures, a new collection of essays on eminent writers and their work, and on the war between life and art. The perilous intersection of writers’ lives with public and private dooms is the fertile subject of many of these remarkable essays. Written with wit and passion, they touch on the inmost identity of literature and the literary artist—with biographical, historical, and psychological overtones. T. S. Eliot sympathizes with fascists, Isaac Babel rides with Red Cossacks—yet both are luminous shapers of modernism. Modernism itself is resisted by the American cultural establishment. Henry James, magisterial psychologist, remains at the mercy of his own mysterious psyche. Anthony Trollope’s masterliness is obscured, first by charges of writing too much and too fast, and then by cultism. Salman Rushdie’s gifts are assailed amid bitter contemporary controversy. And the secret pulse of ambition (and loss) is exposed in the brokenhearted waywardness of the once-celebrated and now nearly forgotten writer Alfred Chester.

Book:The Inheritance: How Three Families and America Moved from Roosevelt to Reagan and Beyond

The Inheritance: How Three Families and America Moved from Roosevelt to Reagan and Beyond

Samuel G. Freedman

In a chronicle of three generations of three working-class families, award-winning journalist Samuel G. Freedman tells the human story of the political transformation of twentieth-century America—the rise and fall of FDR’s New Deal coalition and its displacement by the new conservatism of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich. This is the single most important political phenomenon of our times.

Freedman has selected three families who are at once singular and broadly representative. They are families who reached this country just as the century was beginning and struggled as blacksmiths and domestics and butchers and plumbers to gain a foothold. They are families who acted on their beliefs not only by voting but also by organizing neighborhoods and leading union chapters, canvassing precincts and watching polls and marching in torch-light parades. These families were pillars of the Democratic…[more]

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