For those who have read the three finalists for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal of
Excellence in Nonfiction and wish to find fur-
ther reading, we offer these read-alikes.
Patricia Bell-Scott’s illuminating portrait of a
boundary-breaking friendship, The Firebrand
and the First Lady (Knopf), our first nonfiction
finalist, tells the remarkable stories of two
champions of human rights: Eleanor Roosevelt,
born to privilege, and Pauli Murray, the granddaughter of a slave, who became a writer, law
professor, and Episcopalian priest.
• Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady. By
Susan Quinn. 2016. Penguin.
In this compelling double biography, Quinn establishes without equivocation the love between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
and reporter extraordinaire Lorena “Hick” Hickok.
• Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade. By Thomas Norman De Wolf
and Sharon Leslie Morgan. 2012. Beacon.
De Wolf, a descendant of slave owners, and Morgan, descended from enslaved Africans, traveled together to 21 states and
the Caribbean to trace their heritages and delve into the trauma
of America’s racial history and prospects for recovery.
• Profiles in Leadership: Historians on the Elusive Quality of
Greatness. Ed. by Walter Isaacson. 2010. Norton.
Pauli Murray is the sole woman profiled in full in Isaacson’s
anthology of penetrating inquiries into the nature of American
leadership and the consequences of its failure. Murray appears
with such figures as Chief Joseph, J. P. Morgan, W. E. B. DuBois, and Robert F. Kennedy.
In Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American
City (Crown), the second nonfiction finalist,
Matthew Desmond does a marvelous job exposing the harrowing stories of people who find
themselves in bad situations, shining a light on
how eviction sets people up to fail. This is essential reading for anyone interested in social justice,
poverty, and feminist issues, but its narrative
nonfiction style will also draw general readers.
• Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short
Lives. By Gary Younge. 2016. Nation.
In the same way that Evicted puts a human face on evictions
and poverty, Younge, editor at large for the Guardian, investigates
the stories of 10 people who died by gunshot on a random day—
November 23, 2013. To drive the point further, the victims were all
working-class or poor people under the age of 19.
• Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something
in America. By C. Nicole Mason. 2016. St. Martin’s.
Readers fascinated by the personal stories in Evicted will find
Mason’s absorbing memoir—which would make an excellent
book-club selection—to be an interesting take on the issue of
entrenched poverty in the U.S.
• Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea. By
Mitchell Duneier. 2016. Farrar.
In this dense yet accessible book, noted sociologist Duneier
(Sidewalk, 1999) uncovers the intellectual and sociological history of how the word ghetto evolved from describing a place
where Jews were segregated (in sixteenth-century Venice
and in Rome under the Nazis, for example) to identifying poor,
“inner-city” black neighborhoods.
Our third shortlist title, Patrick Phillips’ Blood at
the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (Norton),
also centers on themes of human rights and social
justice, and the events it describes—a harrowing
chronicle of racial cleansing in Forsyth County,
Georgia, in the early twentieth century—feel eerily
contemporary and all-too relevant.
• Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution
Has Created a New American Majority. By Steve Phillips.
2016. New Press.
Phillips, cofounder of PowerPAC.org, a political-action committee striving for social justice, offers a manifesto to those seeking
to change the way politics plays out in America today. This slim
yet jam-packed call to action will be in demand, both because
Phillips is a popular pundit and because so many people clamor
for an upheaval in politics-as-usual.
• My Father & Atticus Finch: A Lawyer’s Fight for Justice in
1930s Alabama. By Joseph Madison Beck. 2016. Norton.
Beck’s father, Foster, faced a challenging case as a small-town
lawyer in 1930s Alabama that fell along deeply drawn racial
lines, defending a black man accused of raping a young white
woman. The story, like To Kill a Mockingbird, remains a fascinating example of the persistent prejudices and stunning obstacles
that those working for justice without regard to color faced in
the Depression era and beyond.
• White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.
By Nancy Isenberg. 2016. Viking.
Most people are well aware of what terms are not acceptable when talking about different races or ethnic groups. But
what about terms denoting class? Isenberg takes a close look
at the history of poor whites in America from precolonial times
to the present day.
THE NONFICTION SHORTLIST
BY REBECCA VNUK