Annal: 2003 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 2003.

Book:A Problem from Hell

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

Samantha Power

A character-driven study of some of the darkest moments in our national history, when America failed to prevent or stop 20th-century campaigns to exterminate Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Iraqi Kurds, Bosnians, and Rwandans .

Drawing upon declassified cables, private papers, exclusive interviews with Washington’s top policy-makers, and her own reporting from the modern killing fields, Samantha Power tells the story of American indifference and American courage in the face of the worst massacres of the twentieth century.

In this masterful work of social history, Power examines how, in the five decades since the Holocaust, Americans have very rarely marshaled their might to stop genocide and mass terror. Indeed, she shows how the U.S. response to recent genocides bears striking resemblance to the American response to reports of Hitler’s Final Solution. By paying particular attention to the last…[more]

Book:The Anthropology of Turquoise

The Anthropology of Turquoise: Meditations on Landscape, Art, and Spirit

Ellen Meloy

Of all the things I wondered about on this land, I wondered the hardest about the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home—not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors. How our perceptions are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away. How you can fall in love with the light.
—Ellen Meloy

Neurobiologists say that our sensitivity to color begins when we are infants. For artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy, who has spent most of her life in wild, remote places, an intoxication with light and color—sometimes subliminal, often fierce—has expressed itself as a profound attachment to landscape. It has been rightly said: Color is the first principle of Place.

In this luminous mix of memoir, natural history, and eccentric adventure, Meloy uses turquoise—the color and the gem—as…[more]

Book:The Blank Slate

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker

Our conceptions of human nature affect everything aspect of our lives, from child-rearing to politics to morality to the arts. Yet many fear that scientific discoveries about innate patterns of thinking and feeling may be used to justify inequality, to subvert social change, and to dissolve personal responsibility.

In The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. He shows how many intellectuals have denied the existence of human nature and instead have embraced three dogmas: The Blank Slate (the mind has no innate traits), The Noble Savage (people are born good and corrupted by society), and The Ghost in the Machine (each of us has a soul that makes choices free from biology). Each dogma carries a moral burden, so their defenders have engaged in desperate tactics to discredit the scientists who are now challenging them. …[more]

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