2014 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction shortlist:
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, By Doris Kearns Goodwin. Published by Simon & Schuster.
This masterful study examines the complex relationship between two presidents, Roosevelt and Taft, who played major roles in the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century. Acclaimed historian Goodwin offers a superb re-creation of a period when many politicians, journalists, and citizens of differing political affiliations viewed government as a force for public good.
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s research results are consistently educational and entertaining. Her other works on Abraham Lincoln, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Kennedys are companion works.Also suggested is the series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, by Robert A Caro. These are, in chronological order, Path to Power, Means of Ascent, Master of the Senate, and Passage of Power
River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, and Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and The Murder of a President, by Candace Millard
Lives and experiences of U.S. presidents are bound to make history and affect the events of their time. We embrace these stories that bring these men into living focus. Millard does just this with Theodore Roosevelt’s 1914 trip down the Amazon River, and with James A. Garfield’s dark horse candidacy, and his fatal meeting with Charles Guiteau, the madman who shot him.
Personal History, by Katharine Graham
For those as interested in the role of journalism in politics, one cannot forget the history of Katharine Graham and The Washington Post.
All the Presidents Men, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
In a case where there was no overt cooperation between politicians and journalists, this is the story investigation into government, the Watergate affair, for the sake of the public’s right to know.
Truman, by David McCullough
Another biographer of consistent quality, McCullough’s Trumanis a study of character in a time of brutal politics.
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, By Sheri Fink. Published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
As the floodwaters rose after Hurricane Katrina, patients, staff, and families who sheltered in New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital faced a crisis far worse than the storm itself. Fink’s breathtaking account of the storm and what happened at Memorial offers a fascinating look at how people behave in times of crisis.
Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers
Post Katrina New Orleans is a topic, a state of heroism and geography that has cultivated many stories of danger, decisions, and death.
Trapped Under the Sea: One engineering marvel, five men, and a disaster ten miles into the darkness, by Neil Swidey
The Boston Deer Island Waste Treatment Plant tunnel construction is a story of death on the job, failed emergency back-ups, disaster and survival.
Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Mount Everest Disaster, by Jon Krakauer
Adreneline fueled story of survival in inhospitable situation and human bravery and error.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The path to a better way of death, by Katy Butler
Life and death decisions had to be made at Memorial Hospital in an emergency situation. How does one make those decisions when considering quality of life, intervention, and who gets to decide about the end, in the end.
War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival, by Sheri Fink
The author confronts other situations where doctors make moral decisions in wartime Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History, By Nicholas A. Basbanes. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Combining crisp technical explanations with vivid historical and contemporary profiles, Basbanes unfolds the two-thousand-year story of paper, revealing in the process that paper is nothing less than an embodiment of humanity.
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, by James Gleick
Information science and theory are discussed by way of the medium, from cave drawings to the internet. A huge tome that conveys the sense that after reading one knows all there is to know about the topic.
Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
Salt, a “divine substance” is an ingredient that shaped civilization from pre-historic China to today’s Birdseye frozen food.
The Case for Books: Past, Present, Future, by Robert Darnton
One cannot read about paper without further considering the fate of the book. Will it survive Google and its ilk?
2014 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence
Americanah, By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
To the women in the hair-braiding salon, Ifemelu seems to have everything a Nigerian immigrant in America could desire, but the culture shock, hardships, and racism she’s endured have left her feeling like she has “cement in her soul.” Americanah is a courageous novel of independence, integrity, community, and love.
On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
Another title exploring color, culture and country with attention to domestic issues and written in literary voice.
Petropolis, by Anya Ulinich
A Jewish-Siberian immigration story explores class from an outsider point of view, much like Adichie’s Nigerian-American perspective.
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
In this story of family and diaspora, the politics of Ethiopia and the experiences of its expats in America are explored.
What Is the What, by Dave Eggers
A “lost boy of Sudan” is a darker story, but told with humor and humanity, in another tale of sub-continent and new world.
Brick Lane, by Monica Ali (KP)
Bangladeshi sisters in London make different choices about relationships and culture.
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
This exploration of immigrant experience takes a whole different approach as Diaz describes the coming of age of a Dominican boy in New Jersey.
Claire of the Sea Light, By Edwidge Danticat. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
In interlocking stories moving back and forth in time, Danticat weaves a beautifully rendered portrait of longing in the small fishing town of Ville Rose in Haiti. The stories flow seamlessly one into another and are distinguished by Danticat’s luminous prose.
Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones
Coming of age on a tropical island is an obvious shared similarity, including a strong sense of place and strong characters in the face of adversity.
Brother, I’m Dying, by Edwidge Danticat
Haiti is as much a character as Danticat’s father and brother in this, her personal memoir.
The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography, by Sidney Poitier
The Bahamas, “a place of purity” provide a visual backdrop to Poitier’s boyhood stories.
Salvage the Bones, by Jessmyn Ward
If we care about the future of powerless young girls we’ll want to take care of Esch in Bois Sauvage, Mississippi before and after the hurricane hits.Rainbow Troops, by Andrea Hirata
Growing up in a poor village in Indonesia, Ikal writes of the importance of the school and the struggles of the teachers who made the world a larger place for him.
The Goldfinch, By Donna Tartt. Published by Little, Brown & Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
In the wake of his nefarious father’s abandonment, Theo, a smart, 13-year-old Manhattanite, is extremely close to his vivacious mother—until an act of terrorism catapults him into a dizzying world bereft of gravity, certainty, or love. Tartt writes from Theo’s point of view with fierce exactitude and magnetic emotion.
Butcher Bones is a painter who is taking care of his brother in the Australian outback. Mixed-up, made-up family, art, and displacement are themes in both these books.
As with Theo, life seems to really begin after a horrific experience, in this case, the Columbine shootings in Littleton, Colorado. Travel is wide and the past is explored.
Just as Theo travels the world to unexpected places, our unnamed narrator is tossed, or tosses himself, from a narrow life left in an airport, into a very large world that he tries to navigate as a writer.
Another world travel theme takes Maya’s coming of age story from California, to Las Vegas, and finally to the southern coast of Chile.
A story of disaster, a father dies in the World Trade Center bombing, a young boy searches for meaning and redemption.