Annal: 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 2006.

Book:American Prometheus

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin

American Prometheus is the first full-scale biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, “father of the atomic bomb,” the brilliant, charismatic physicist who led the effort to capture the awesome fire of the sun for his country in time of war. Immediately after Hiroshima, he became the most famous scientist of his generation–one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, the embodiment of modern man confronting the consequences of scientific progress.

He was the author of a radical proposal to place international controls over atomic materials–an idea that is still relevant today. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb and criticized the Air Force’s plans to fight an infinitely dangerous nuclear war. In the now almost-forgotten hysteria of the early 1950s, his ideas were anathema to powerful advocates of a massive nuclear buildup, and, in response, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss, Superbomb advocate Edward Teller and FBI…[more]

Book:The Peabody Sisters

The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism

Megan Marshall

Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Bronts. The story of these remarkable sisters and their central role in shaping the thinking of their day has never before been fully told. Twenty years in the making, Megan Marshall’s monumental biography brings to new life the era of creative ferment known as the American Renaissance.

Elizabeth, the oldest sister, was a mind-on-fire thinker. A powerful influence on the great writers of the era Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau among them she also published some of their earliest works. It was Elizabeth who prodded these newly minted Transcendentalists away from Emerson’s individualism and toward a greater connection to others. Mary was a determined and passionate reformer who finally found her soul mate in the great educator Horace Mann. The frail Sophia was a painter who won the admiration of the great society artists of the day. She married Nathaniel Hawthorne but not before Hawthorne threw the delicate dynamics…[more]

Book:The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion

From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage—and a life, in good times and bad—that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later—the night before New Year’s Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain…[more]

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