Annal: 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 2002.

Book:The Metaphysical Club

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

Louis Menand

A riveting, original book about the creation of modern American thought.

The Metaphysical Club was an informal group that met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1872, to talk about ideas. Its members included Oliver Well Holmes, Jr., future associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; William James, the father of modern American psychology; and Charles Sanders Peirce, logician, scientist, and the founder of semiotics. The Club was probably in existence for about nine months. No records were kept. The one thing we know that came out of it was an idea—an idea about ideas. This book is the story of that idea. Holmes, James, and Peirce all believed that ideas are not things “out there” waiting to be discovered but are tools people invent—like knives and forks and microchips—to make their way in the world. They thought that ideas are produced not by individuals, but by groups of individuals—that ideas are social. They do not develop according to…[more]

Book:Deep Souths

Deep Souths: Delta, Piedmont, and Sea Island Society in the Age of Segregation

J. William Harris

Deep Souths tells the stories of three southern regions from Reconstruction to World War II: the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta, the eastern Piedmont of Georgia, and the Georgia Sea Islands and Atlantic coast. Though these regions initially shared the histories and populations we associate with the idea of a “Deep South”—all had economies based on slave plantation labor in 1860—their histories diverged sharply during the three generations after Reconstruction. Along the Georgia coast, thousands of former slaves became landowning peasant farmers and African Americans conserved traditions that had largely disappeared elsewhere. In the Georgia Piedmont, plantation agriculture revived with the use of black and white tenant labor, and the region became a Populist Party stronghold in the 1890s. In the Delta, still largely a wilderness in 1860, huge public works and land-clearing made possible the creation of cotton plantations on a scale unknown before the war. The Delta drew ! tens of thousands of black migrants who…[more]

Book:Facing East from Indian Country

Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

Daniel K. Richter

In the beginning, North America was Indian country. But only in the beginning. After the opening act of the great national drama, Native Americans yielded to the westward rush of European settlers. Or so the story usually goes. Yet, for three centuries after Columbus, Native people controlled most of eastern North America and profoundly shaped its destiny. In Facing East from Indian Country, Daniel K. Richter keeps Native people center-stage throughout the story of the origins of the United States. Viewed from Indian country, the sixteenth century was an era in which Native people discovered Europeans and struggled to make sense of a new world. Well into the seventeenth century, the most profound challenges to Indian life came less from the arrival of a relative handful of European colonists than from the biological, economic, and environmental forces the newcomers unleashed. Drawing upon their own traditions, Indian communities reinvented themselves and carved out a place in a world dominated by transatlantic European…[more]

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