Annal: 1999 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1999.

Book:Embracing Defeat

Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

John W. Dower

The first definitive history of the transformation of Japanese society under American occupation after World War II. This major new work by America’s foremost historian of modern Japan draws on a vast range of Japanese sources to offer an extraordinarily thorough, complex, and rich analysis of how shattering defeat in World War II followed by over six years of military occupation by the United States affected every level of Japanese society-in ways that neither the victor nor the vanquished could anticipate. Here is the history of an extraordinary moment in the history of Japanese culture, when new values warred with old, and when early ideals of “peace and democracy” were soon challenged by the “reverse course” decision to incorporate Japan into the cold-war Pax Americana. Embracing Defeat chronicles not only the material and psychological impact of utter defeat but also the early emergence of dynamic countercultures that gave primacy to the private as opposed to public spheres-in short, a liberation from totalitarian wartime control. John Dower shows how the tangled legacies of this intense, turbulent, and unprecedented interplay of conqueror and conquered, West and East, wrought the utterly foreign and strangely familiar Japan of today.

Book:Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Mark Bowden

The acclaimed New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down is “a shocking account of modern warfare . . . gripping and horrifying” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Destined to become a classic of war reporting, Black Hawk Down is Mark Bowden’s brilliant account of the longest sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War. On October 3rd, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take an hour. Instead they found themselves pinned down through a long and terrible night fighting against thousands of heavily armed Somalis. The following morning, eighteen Americans were dead and more than seventy had been badly injured. …[more]

Book:Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation

Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation

John Phillip Santos

In this beautifully wrought memoir, award-winning writer John Philip Santos weaves together dream fragments, family remembrances, and Chicano mythology, reaching back into time and place to blend the story of one Mexican family with the soul of an entire people. The story unfolds through a pageant of unforgettable family figures: from Madrina—touched with epilepsy and prophecy ever since, as a girl, she saw a dying soul leave its body—to Teofilo, who was kidnapped as an infant and raised by the Kikapu Indians of Northern Mexico. At the heart of the book is Santos’ search for the meaning of his grandfather’s suicide in San Antonio, Texas, in 1939. Part treasury of the elders, part elegy, part personal odyssey, this is an immigration tale and a haunting family story that offers a rich, magical view of Mexican-American culture.

Book:Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette

Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette

Judith Thurman

A scandalously talented stage performer, a practiced seductress of both men and women, and the flamboyant author of some of the greatest works of twentieth-century literature, Colette was our first true superstar. Now, in Judith Thurman’s Secrets of the Flesh, Colette at last has a biography worthy of her dazzling reputation.

Having spent her childhood in the shadow of an overpowering mother, Colette escaped at age twenty into a turbulent marriage with the sexy, unscrupulous Willy—a literary charlatan who took credit for her bestselling Claudine novels. Weary of Willy’s sexual domination, Colette pursued an extremely public lesbian love affair with a niece of Napoleon’s. At forty, she gave birth to a daughter who bored her, at forty-seven she seduced her teenage stepson, and in her seventies she flirted with the Nazi occupiers of Paris, even though her beloved third husband, a Jew, had been arrested by the Gestapo. And all the while, this incomparable…[more]

Book:Woman: An Intimate Geography

Woman: An Intimate Geography

Natalie Angier

With the clarity, insight, and sheer exuberance of language that make her one of The New York Times’s premier stylists, Pulitzer Prize-winner Natalie Angier lifts the veil of secrecy from that most enigmatic of evolutionary masterpieces, the female body. Angier takes readers on a mesmerizing tour of female anatomy and physiology that explores everything from organs to orgasm, and delves into topics such as exercise, menopause, and the mysterious properties of breast milk.

A self-proclaimed “scientific fantasia of womanhood.” Woman ultimately challenges widely accepted Darwinian-based gender stereotypes. Angier shows how cultural biases have influenced research in evolutionary psychology (the study of the biological bases of behavior) and consequently lead to dubious conclusions about “female nature.” such as the idea that women are innately monogamous while men are natural philanderers. …[more]

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