Honor roll: National Book Award for Arts and Letters

Each of these books has been nominated for a National Book Award for Arts and Letters. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:The Lives of a Cell

The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Lewis Thomas

Elegant, suggestive, and clarifying, Lewis Thomas’s profoundly humane vision explores the world around us and examines the complex interdependence of all things.  Extending beyond the usual limitations of biological science and into a vast and wondrous world of hidden relationships, this provocative book explores in personal, poetic essays to topics such as computers, germs, language, music, death, insects, and medicine.  Lewis Thomas writes, “Once you have become permanently startled, as I am, by the realization that we are a social species, you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is, by and large, good for us.”

Book:The Great War and Modern Memory

The Great War and Modern Memory

Paul Fussell

The year 2000 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of The Great War and Modern Memory, winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and recently named by the Modern Library one of the twentieth century’s 100 Best Non-Fiction Books. Fussell’s landmark study of World War I remains as original and gripping today as ever before: a literate, literary, and illuminating account of the Great War, the war that changed a generation, ushered in the modern era, and revolutionized how we see the world.

Book:Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

Roger Shattuck

Book:Deeper into Movies

Deeper into Movies

Pauline Kael

Reviews of films which appeared between 1969 and 1972.



Arthur McCandless Wilson

Book:The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven

The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven

Charles Rosen

This outstanding book treating the three most beloved composers of the Vienna School is considered basic to any study of classical-era music. Drawing on his rich experience and intimate familiarity with the works of these giants, Charles Rosen presents his keen insights in clear and persuasive language.


Cocteau: A Biography

Francis Steegmuller

The contradictions and paradoxes of Jean Cocteau, poet, novelist, playwright, and film-maker, can be called a deliberate scandal. The generosity and the egomania, the poise and the anguish of an opium-addicted homosexual, a man who knew everyone that mattered in the arts, and who climaxed an avant-garde life by entering, without seeming contradiction, the formidable conservative precincts of the Academie Francaise—all this is elegantly woven by Mr. Steegmuller into the tapestry of this award-winning and riveting biography.

Book:An Unfinished Woman

An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir

Lillian Hellman

Caustic, brilliant, uncompromising, accomplished, Lillian Hellman, one writer noted, can “take the tops off bottles with her teeth”. Her career as a playwright began in 1938 with The Children’s Hour, the first of seven plays that would bring her international attention and praise. Thirty years later, Hellman unleashed her peerless wit and candor on the subject she knew best: herself. An Unfinished Woman is a rich, surprising, emotionally charged portrait of a bygone world—and of an independent-minded woman coming into her own.

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