Annal: 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2008.

Book:The Forever War (Filkins)

The Forever War

Dexter Filkins

From the front lines of the battle against Islamic fundamentalism, a searing, unforgettable book that captures the human essence of the greatest conflict of our time.

Through the eyes of Dexter Filkins, the prizewinning New York Times correspondent whose work was hailed by David Halberstam as “reporting of the highest quality imaginable,” we witness the remarkable chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Filkins’s narrative moves across a vast and various landscape of amazing characters and astonishing scenes: deserts, mountains, and streets of carnage; a public amputation performed by Taliban; children frolicking in minefields; skies streaked white by the contrails of B-52s; a night’s sleep in the rubble of Ground Zero. …[more]

Book:The Dark Side

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

Jane Mayer

A dramatic and damning narrative account of how America has fought the “War on Terror”

In the days immediately following September 11th, the most powerful people in the country were panic-stricken. The radical decisions about how to combat terrorists and strengthen national security were made in a state of utter chaos and fear, but the key players, Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, used the crisis to further a long held agenda to enhance Presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment.

The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world—decisions that not only violated the Constitution to which White House officials…[more]

Book:From Colony to Superpower

From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776

George C. Herring

George C. Herring uses foreign relations as the lens through which to tell the story of America’s dramatic rise from thirteen disparate colonies huddled along the Atlantic coast to the world’s greatest superpower.

A sweeping account of United States’ foreign relations and diplomacy, this magisterial volume documents America’s interaction with other peoples and nations of the world. Herring tells a story of stunning successes and sometimes tragic failures, captured in a fast-paced narrative that illuminates the central importance of foreign relations to the existence and survival of the nation, and highlights its ongoing impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. He shows how policymakers defined American interests broadly to include territorial expansion, access to growing markets, and the spread of an “American way” of life. And Herring does all this in a story rich in human drama and filled with epic events. Statesmen such as Benjamin Franklin and Woodrow Wilson…[more]

Book:This Republic of Suffering

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

Drew Gilpin Faust

An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War.

During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today’s population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death. …[more]

Book:White Protestant Nation

White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement

Allan J. Lichtman

Spanning nearly one hundred years of American political history, and abounding with outsize characters—from Lindbergh to Goldwater to Gingrich to Abramoff—White Protestant Nation offers a penetrating look at the origins, evolution, and triumph (at times) of modern conservatism. Lichtman is both a professor of political history at American University and a veteran journalist, and after ten years of prodigious research, he has produced what may be the definitive history of the modern conservative movement in America.

Lichtman brings to life a gallery of dynamic right-wing personalities, from luminaries such as Strom Thurmond, Phyllis Schlafly, and Bill Kristol to indispensable inside operators like financiers Frank Gannett and J. Howard Pew. He explodes the conventional wisdom that modern conservative politics began with Goldwater and instead traces the roots of today’s movement to the…[more]

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