Annal: 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2006.

Book:Rough Crossings

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution

Simon Schama

Rough Crossings turns on a single huge question: if you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, whom would you want to win? In response to a declaration by the last governor of Virginia that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the King would be emancipated, tens of thousands of slaves—Americans who clung to the sentimental notion of British freedom—escaped from farms, plantations and cities to try to reach the British camp. This mass movement lasted as long as the war did, and a military strategy originally designed to break the plantations of the American South had unleashed one of the great exoduses in American history.

With powerfully vivid storytelling, Schama details the odyssey of the escaped blacks through the fires of war and the terror of potential recapture at the war’s end, into inhospitable Nova Scotia, where thousands who had served the Crown were betrayed and, in a little-known hegira of the slave epic, sent across the broad, stormy ocean to Sierra Leone.

Book:The Girls Who Went Away

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade

Ann Fessler

A powerful and groundbreaking revelation of the secret history of the 1.5 million women who surrendered children for adoption in the several decades before Roe v. Wade

In this deeply moving work, Ann Fessler brings to light the lives of hundreds of thousands of young single American women forced to give up their newborn children in the years following World War II and before Roe v. Wade. The Girls Who Went Away tells a story not of wild and carefree sexual liberation, but rather of a devastating double standard that has had punishing long-term effects on these women and on the children they gave up for adoption. Based on Fessler’s groundbreaking interviews, it brings to brilliant life these women’s voices and the spirit of the time, allowing each to share her own experience in gripping and intimate detail. Today, when the future of the Roe decision and women’s reproductive rights stand squarely at…[more]

Book:The Lemon Tree

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East

Sandy Tolan

The tale of a simple act of faith between two young people - one Israeli, one Palestinian - that symbolizes the hope for peace in the Middle East.

In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramle, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly twenty years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir Al-Khairi, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in.

This act of faith in the face of many years of animosity is the starting point for a true story of a remarkable relationship between two families, one Arab, one Jewish, amid the fraught modern history of the regio. In his childhood home, in the lemon…[more]

Book:The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq

The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq

Patrick Cockburn

A profound and personal journey to the heart of a shattered nation.

In March 2003, Patrick Cockburn traveled secretly to Iraq just before the invasion, and has covered the war from Baghdad ever since. In The Occupation, Cockburn describes the fighting on the ground as Saddam’s armies collapsed, the looting of Baghdad, the failure of the US occupation, the springs of the resistance and how it turned into a full scale uprising. Explaining how the three main Iraqi communities, the Kurds, the Shia and the Sunni, responded to the growing conflict, he gives us a nuanced portrait of daily life in Baghdad, of how Iraqis themselves reacted to the invasion and the long war and occupation that followed.

Book:The Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Michael Pollan

The bestselling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the twenty-first century

“What should we have for dinner?” To one degree or another this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore’s dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn’t-which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore’s dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance. The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the…[more]

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