Annal: 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2000.

Book:Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing

Ted Conover

Ted Conover, the intrepid author of Coyotes, about the world of illegal Mexican immigrants, spent a year as a prison guard at Sing Sing. Newjack, his account of that experience, is a milestone in American journalism: a book that casts new and unexpected light on this nation’s prison crisis and sets a new standard for courageous, in-depth reporting.

At the infamous Sing Sing, once a model prison but now New York State’s most troubled maximum-security facility, Conover goes to work as a gallery officer, working shifts in which he alone must supervise scores of violent inner-city felons. He soon learns the impossibility of doing his job by the book. What should he do when he feels the hair-raising tingle that tells him a fight is about to break out? When he loses a key in a tussle? When a prisoner punches him in the head? Little by little, he learns to walk the fine line between leniency and tyranny that distinguishes a good guard. …[more]

Book:Betrayal of Trust

Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health

Laurie Garrett

In this meticulously researched and ultimately explosive new book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the New York Times bestseller The Coming Plague, Laurie Garrett takes readers across the globe to reveal how a series of potential and present public health catastrophes together form a terrifying portrait of real global disaster in the making.

Book:The Collaborator

The Collaborator: The Trial & Execution of Robert Brasillach

Alice Kaplan

On February 6, 1945, Robert Brasillach was executed for treason by a French firing squad. He was a writer of some distinction—a prolific novelist and a keen literary critic. He was also a dedicated anti-Semite, an acerbic opponent of French democracy, and editor in chief of the fascist weekly Je Suis Partout, in whose pages he regularly printed wartime denunciations of Jews and resistance activists.

Was Brasillach in fact guilty of treason? Was he condemned for his denunciations of the resistance, or singled out as a suspected homosexual? Was it right that he was executed when others, who were directly responsible for the murder of thousands, were set free? Kaplan’s meticulous reconstruction of Brasillach’s life and trial skirts none of these ethical subtleties: a detective story, a cautionary tale, and a meditation on the disturbing workings of justice and memory, The Collaborator will stand as the definitive account of Brasillach’s crime and punishment.

Book:Crucible of War

Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766

Fred Anderson

In this engrossing narrative of the great military conflagration of the mid-eighteenth century, Fred Anderson transports us into the maelstrom of international rivalries. With the Seven Years’ War, Great Britain decisively eliminated French power north of the Caribbean — and in the process destroyed an American diplomatic system in which Native Americans had long played a central, balancing role — permanently changing the political and cultural landscape of North America.

Anderson skillfully reveals the clash of inherited perceptions the war created when it gave thousands of American colonists their first experience of real Englishmen and introduced them to the British cultural and class system. We see colonists who assumed that they were partners in the empire encountering British officers who regarded them as subordinates and who treated them accordingly. This laid the groundwork in shared experience for a common view of the world, of the empire, and of the men who had…[more]

Book:Way Out There in the Blue

Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War

Frances FitzGerald

Way Out There in the Blue is a major work of history by the Pulitzer Prize­winning author of Fire in the Lake. Using the Star Wars missile defense program as a magnifying glass on his presidency, Frances FitzGerald gives us a wholly original portrait of Ronald Reagan, the most puzzling president of the last half of the twentieth century.

Reagan’s presidency and the man himself have always been difficult to fathom. His influence was enormous, and the few powerful ideas he espoused remain with us still—yet he seemed nothing more than a charming, simple-minded, inattentive actor. FitzGerald shows us a Reagan far more complex than the man we thought we knew. A master of the American language and of self-presentation, the greatest storyteller ever to occupy the Oval Office, Reagan created a compelling public persona that bore little relationship to himself.

The real Ronald Reagan—the Reagan who emerges from FitzGerald’s book—was a gifted politician with a deep understanding…[more]

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