Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University are pleased to announce the 2016 shortlist for the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards — the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize. This is the first year that a shortlist is being announced for the Lukas Prizes.
The winners and finalists of the 2016 Lukas Prizes will be announced on March 30. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on May 10 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Award ($30,000)
The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award is given annually to aid in the completion of a significant work of nonfiction on an American topic of political or social concern. The committee envisions the award as a way of closing the gap between the time and money an author has and the time and money that finishing a book requires.
1. Blaire Briody’s THE NEW WILD WEST: Black Gold, Fracking and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown (St. Martin’s Press)
“Details how a once-quiet Midwestern town suddenly became the new frontier of U.S. energy independence, weaving in stories of the families who have lived there for generations and the migrant laborers desperate to make a living.”
2. Sasha Issenberg’s THE ENGAGEMENT: A Quarter-Century of Defending, Defining, and Expanding Marriage in America (Crown)
“A political, legal and social history of the battle over same-sex marriage in the United States.”
3. Steve Luxenberg’s SEPARATE (W.W. Norton)
“A narrative account of one of the most famous Supreme Court cases in American history: Plessy v. Ferguson, a ruling that is frequently ranked by legal scholars as one of the Court’s worst.”
4. Steve Oney’s AMERICAN AIR (Simon & Schuster)
“A book that will bring to life the people who created the influential institution National Public Radio (NPR) and the times in which they lived.”
5. Meredith Wadman’s THE CELLS AND THE SCIENTISTS (Viking Penguin)
“This stranger-than-fiction tale traces the story of a group of cells called WI-38 which have been widely used in medical research and to make vaccines that have protected hundreds of millions of people from diseases including polio, measles, rabies and rubella.”
2016 Lukas Work-In-Progress Award Judges: John Duff, John Ryden, Bill Strachan
J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize ($10,000)
The J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize recognizes superb examples of nonfiction writing that exemplify the literary grace, the commitment to serious research, and the social concern that characterized the distinguished work of the award’s namesake, J. Anthony Lukas. Books must be on a topic of American political or social concern and must have been published between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015.
1. Adam Briggle’s A FIELD PHILOSOPHER’S GUIDE TO FRACKING: How One Texas Town Stood Up to Big Oil and Gas (Liveright)
“The story of an unlikely victory for grassroots democracy in an age of big money politics.”
2. Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer’s $2.00 A DAY: Living on Almost Nothing in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
“A revelatory account of a kind of poverty in America so extreme, and so often hidden, most Americans don’t think it exists.”
3. Dale Russakoff’s THE PRIZE: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
“A close-up account of the battle to reform the troubled schools of Newark, N.J., set in motion in 2010 by a gift of $100 million from Mark Zuckerberg and an improbable alliance of Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.”
4. Susan Southard’s NAGASAKI: Life After Nuclear War (Viking Penguin)
“Tells the dramatic eyewitness accounts of five survivors—all of whom were teenagers at the time of the bombing.”
5. Stephen Witt’s HOW MUSIC GOT FREE: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy (Viking Penguin)
“Tells the enthralling untold story of the music piracy revolution and the mysterious man who almost singlehandedly took down the music industry.”
2016 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize Judges: Mark Kurlansky (chair), Charlie Conrad, Jonathan Mahler, Judy Pasternak
Mark Lynton History Prize ($10,000):
The Mark Lynton History Prize is awarded to the book-length work of narrative history, on any subject, that best combines intellectual distinction with felicity of expression. Books must have been published between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015.
1. Sean McMeekin’s THE OTTOMON ENDGAME: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908-1923 (Penguin Press)
“Brings to light the entire strategic narrative that led to an unstable new order in postwar Middle East—much of which is still felt today.”
2. Jan Jarboe Russell’s THE TRAIN TO CRYSTAL CITY: FDR’s Secret Prison Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II (Scribner)
“Reveals the secret history of an American interment camp in Crystal City, Texas.”
3. Timothy Snyder’s BLACK EARTH: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Tim Duggan Books)
“This epic history of extermination and survival presents a new explanation of one of the great atrocities of the 20th century, and reveals the risks that we face in the 21st century.”
4. T. J. Stiles’ CUSTER’S TRIALS: A Life on the Frontier of a New America (Alfred A. Knopf)
“Paints a portrait of George Armstrong Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, revealing how much of his significance has been obscured by his iconic death at the Little Bighorn.”
5. Nikolaus Wachsmann’s KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“Offers an unprecedented, integrated account of the Nazi concentration camps from their inception in 1933 through their demise, 70 years ago, in the spring of 1945.”
2016 Mark Lynton History Prize Judges: William Shinker (chair), Lynne Olson, Sylvia Nasar
About the Prizes
Established in 1998, the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards honor the best in American nonfiction writing. Co-administered by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, and sponsored by the family of the late Mark Lynton, a historian and senior executive at the firm Hunter Douglas in the Netherlands, the Lukas Prize Project presents three awards annually.