Nieman News

New York – Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard have named the 2012 winners of the Lukas Prize Project Awards.

A Vanderbilt University professor has won the 2012 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for his sensitive account of the fine line people of mixed race have tread in the United States since the nation’s beginning. The Mark Lynton History Prize will go to a University of Virginia professor for her unusual and groundbreaking work on the history of common sense. The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award was won by a former AP reporter and editor who is completing a book on the world’s inability to help Haiti.

The judges said of The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White (Viking Press) by Daniel J. Sharfstein, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University: “The book makes real the fact that, not so long ago, American citizens were forced into hiding their lineage and identity just to live free in this democracy, the perils and sense of loss, no matter which road they chose, and the price being paid even to this day by their descendents, and by extension, all of us.” The winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize receives $10,000. One finalist was named: the late Manning Marable for Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Viking Press).

Sophia Rosenfeld’s Common Sense: A Political History (Harvard University Press) is an “…extraordinary, wide-ranging, and original work that takes on the unexpected topic of common sense (what everyone knows), gives it a history, and shows how central it is for the evolution of our modern understanding of politics,” the judges said. Rosenfeld is a professor of history at the University of Virginia. The winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize receives $10,000. The judges named two finalists: Michael Willrich, for Pox: An American History (Penguin Press), and Craig Harline for Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America (Yale University Press).

The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (Palgrave Macmillan) by Jonathan M. Katz won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. The prize is given to aid the completion of a significant work of nonfiction. The judges said: “Katz is a great storyteller who enmeshes the reader in a lively web of history, incident, and examples of humanity pushing through disaster, hard luck, iniquity, and triumph to muck it up all over again.” The winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award receives $30,000. The judges named one finalist: Susan Southard for Nagasaki (Viking Penguin).

The awards will be presented to the winners and finalists on May 1, 2012 at a ceremony at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation co-administer the awards.

About the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards

Established in 1998, the prizes recognize excellence in nonfiction that exemplify the literary grace and commitment to serious research and social concern that characterized the work of the awards’ Pulitzer Prize-winning namesake, J. Anthony Lukas, who died in 1997. One of the three Lukas Prize Project Awards, The Mark Lynton History Prize, is named for the late Mark Lynton, a business executive and author of Accidental Journey: A Cambridge Internee’s Memoir of World War II. Lynton was an avid proponent of the writing of history and the Lynton family has sponsored the Lukas Prize Project since its inception.

About the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard administers the oldest fellowship program for journalists in the world. Grants are awarded to accomplished professionals who come to Harvard for a year of study. More than 1,300 journalists from 91 countries have received Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, an influential quarterly magazine and website that explores contemporary challenges and opportunities in journalism; the Nieman Journalism Lab, a website that reports on the future of news and identifies emerging business models, innovation and best practices in journalism in the digital media age; Nieman Watchdog, a website that poses questions the press should ask and teaches journalists how to monitor and hold accountable all those who exert power in public life; and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.

About the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

For almost a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists in a program that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912, the school offers Master of Science, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. It is also home to numerous journalism prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, the duPont-Columbia Awards and the National Magazine Awards. It also offers a number of professional development programs, including the Punch Sulzberger Program and the Spencer Fellowships for Education Reporting.

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