National Book Award - Nonfiction by National Book Foundation

The National Book Awards are among the most eminent literary prizes in the United States. Started in 1950, the awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the prior year, as well as lifetime achievement awards including the "Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters" and the "Literarian Award". The purpose of the awards is "to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.

  1. Herman Melville by Newton Arvin

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    Biography of Herman Melville

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  2. Ralph Waldo Emerson by Ralph L. Rusk

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    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  3. The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson

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    The Sea Around Us is a prize-winning 1951 bestseller by Rachel Carson about oceanography, marine biology and the ecosystem within and around the world's oceans and seas.


  4. The Course of Empire by Bernard A. DeVoto

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    This sweeping narrative traces North American expansion over a period of 278 years, from Balboa's route to the Pacific through the early days of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It is the dramatic s...


  5. A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton

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    A Stillness at Appomattox is a history on the American Civil War that recounts the final year. Some of Catton's extensive work describes the Battle of the Wilderness, the assault of the Mule Sho...


  6. The Measure of Man by Joseph Wood Krutch

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    The Measure of Man

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  7. An American in Italy by Herbert Kubly

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    An American in Italy

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  8. Russia Leaves the War by George F. Kennan

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    Russia Leaves the War (1956) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by George F. Kennan. The book also won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, the George Bancroft Prize, and the Francis Parkman Prize...


  9. The Lion and the Throne by Catherine Drinker Bowen

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    The Lion and the Throne

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  10. Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame De Stael by J. Christopher Herold

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    Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame De Stael

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  11. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer

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    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by journalist William L. Shirer, is the first and most successful, large scale history of Nazi Germany in English for a general audience, first published in 19...


  12. The City in History by Lewis Mumford

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    The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects is a 1961 National Book Award winner by American historian Lewis Mumford. In the book Mumford urges for a world not in wh...


  13. Henry James by Leon Edel

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  14. James Joyce by Richard Ellmann

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    This acclaimed biography has won both the James Tait Black and the Duff Cooper Memorial Prizes, and is considered by many to be the definitive account of Joyce's life and work. The fresh materia...


  15. The Course of American Democracy by Robert V. Remini

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    The Course of American Democracy

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  16. Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas

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    The book traces the history of three families: the African-American Twymons, the Irish McGoffs and the Yankee Divers. It gives brief genealogical histories of each families, focusing on how the eve...


  17. Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

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    Barry Lopez's National Book Award-winning classic study of the Far North is widely considered his masterpiece. Lopez offers a thorough examination of this obscure world-its terrain, its wildlife...


  18. A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan

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    A Bright Shining Lie is a book by Neil Sheehan, a former New York Times reporter who covered the Vietnam War. It is about U.S. Army retired Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann and the United States i...


  19. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

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    The Making of the Atomic Bomb, a book written by Richard Rhodes, won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award. The 900-page bo...


  20. The House of Morgan by Ron Chernow

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    The winner of the National Book Award and now considered a classic, The House of Morgan is the most ambitious history ever written about an American banking dynasty. Acclaimed by The Wall Street Jo...


  21. Freedom by Orlando Patterson

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    This magisterial work traces the history of our most cherished value. Patterson links the birth of freedom in primitive societies with the institution of slavery, and traces the evolution of three ...


  22. Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette

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    Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story

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  23. United States: Essays 1952-1992 by Gore Vidal

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    United States: Essays 1952-1992

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  24. How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland

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    The 1994 NBA nonfiction winner, Yale physician Nuland's study of the clinical, biological and emotional details of dying.


  25. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman

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    From Beirut to Jerusalem is a book written by Thomas L. Friedman chronicling his days as a reporter in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War and his journey in 1984 from Beirut to Jerusalem to cover...


  26. The Haunted Land by Tina Rosenberg

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    The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism written by Tina Rosenberg and published by Random House in 1995, won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the 1995 National B...


  27. In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

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    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is a National Book Award winning work of maritime history by Nathaniel Philbrick. It tells the story of the Whaleship Essex from the poin...


  28. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon

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    The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression is a 2001 memoir written by Andrew Solomon. It examines the personal, cultural, and scientific aspects of depression through Solomon's published interviews...


  29. Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

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    In the third and most-recently published volume, Master of the Senate, Caro chronicles Johnson's rapid ascent in the United States Congress, including his tenure as Senate Majority Leader. This 116...


  30. Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire

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    A childhood in a privileged household in 1950s Havana is joyous and cruel, like any other — but with exotic differences. Lizards roam the house and grounds. Fights aren't waged with snowballs but w...


  31. Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle

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    In this electrifying story of the sensational murder trial that divided Detroit and ignited the civil rights struggle, Boyle weaves a tapestry of narrative history that documents the volatile Ameri...


  32. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

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    The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, is an account of the year following the death of the author's husband John Gregory Dunne (1932–2003). Published by Knopf in October 2005, the book was ...


  33. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

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    The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since. Timothy Egan's critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic c...


  34. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner

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    Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA is a 2007 book by Tim Weiner. Legacy of Ashes is a detailed history of the Central Intelligence Agency from its creation after World War II, through the Cold...


  35. The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed

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    The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family is a 2008 book by American historian Annette Gordon-Reed. It recounts the history of four generations of the African American Hemings family, from th...


  36. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles

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    A biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism, documenting how Vanderbilt helped launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manh...

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  37. Just Kids by Patti Smith

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    Just Kids is a memoir by Patti Smith, published on January 19, 2010. In the book, Smith documents her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe.


  38. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

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    Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovati...

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  39. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

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    Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity is a non-fiction book written by the Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo in 2012. It won the National Book Award and the L...


  40. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

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    Paints a picture of the last thirty years of life in America by following several citizens, including the son of tobacco farmers in the rural south, a Washington insider who denies his idealism for...

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  41. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos

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    A Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker documents the political, economic and cultural changes occurring in today's China, examining a transition from Communist to personal power while addressin...

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  42. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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    Between the World and Me is a 2015 book written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and published by Spiegel & Grau. It is written as a letter to the author's teenaged son about the feelings, symbolism, and realit...


  43. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

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    Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award...

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