2015 Nominees: nonfiction

THE HOUSE OF TWENTY THOUSAND BOOKS by Sasha Abramsky
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"If you finish this brilliant, realized book thinking you need to own more books, you're to be forgiven. A wonderful celebration of the mind, history, and love."
Memoir of Jewish intellectual life and universal history alike, told through a houseful of books, their eccentric collectors, and the rooms in which they dwelled. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 15, 2015

"There are not enough superlatives to describe the wealth of information in this book and the bright, clear way in which it is taught. Just buy it."
Rael (History/Bowdoin Coll.; Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North, 2002, etc.) examines the long, slow death of slavery in the United States, masterfully showing how each event is connected and letting us in on secrets that textbooks never mentioned.Read full book review >
THE FISH LADDER by Katharine Norbury
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart."
British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Read full book review >
GIVE US THE BALLOT by Ari Berman
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"Not just a compelling history, but a cry for help in the recurring struggle to gain what is supposed to be an inalienable right."
An incisive look at the many issues surrounding the right to vote. Read full book review >
NAGASAKI by Susan Southard
HISTORY
Released: July 28, 2015

"A valiant, moving work of research certain to provoke vigorous discussion."
Intense, deeply detailed, and compassionate account of the atomic bomb's effects on the people and city of Nagasaki, then and now. Read full book review >
PALIMPSEST by Matthew Battles
HISTORY
Released: July 21, 2015

"A fascinating exploration stylishly and gracefully told."
An illuminating look at the origins and impact of writing. Read full book review >
OUR MAN IN CHARLESTON by Christopher Dickey
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 21, 2015

"A great book explaining the workings of what Dickey calls an erratic, cobbled-together coalition of ferociously independent states. It should be in the library of any student of diplomacy, as well as Civil War buffs."
In this biography of Robert Bunch, the British consul in Charleston, South Carolina, at the beginning of the Civil War, Daily Beast foreign editor Dickey (Securing the City: Inside America's Best Counterterror Force—The NYPD, 2010, etc.) illustrates how an outside observer can understand more about a situation than the parties involved.Read full book review >
LIFE’S GREATEST SECRET by Matthew Cobb
HISTORY
Released: July 7, 2015

"The greatest milestone in 20th-century biology received an iconic account in Horace Freeland Judson's The Eighth Day of Creation (1979). Much has happened since that publication, and Cobb's gripping, insightful history, often from the mouths of the participants themselves, updates the story, bringing it all the way into the present."
Animal breeders have always known that "like breeds like," but no one, Charles Darwin included, knew why offspring resemble parents except, sometimes, when they don't. Cobb (Zoology/Univ. of Manchester; Eleven Days in August: The Liberation of Paris 1944, 2014, etc.) describes how they learned.Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: July 7, 2015

"A fascinating biography of a physicist who transformed how science is done."
Europe's Large Hadron Collider cost more than $10 billion, paid for by a consortium of nations. Its success owes much to charismatic physicist Ernest Lawrence (1901-1958), who invented the cyclotron, the Collider's ancestor. Read full book review >
MEANWHILE THERE ARE LETTERS by Suzanne Marrs
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 7, 2015

"An intimate, luminous portrait of a friendship."
Tender letters reveal interwoven literary lives. Read full book review >
THE TANK MAN'S SON by Mark Bouman
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 1, 2015

"Never preachy or self-pitying, just an honest story well written and well told."
A touching memoir of a truly miserable childhood. Read full book review >
I, MIGRANT by Sami Shah
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 1, 2015

"Humor at its most vigorous and unsparing."
A Pakistani-born comic's account of how he sought salvation in stand-up comedy and then found a new home in Australia. Read full book review >

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ABOUT THE KIRKUS PRIZE

The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earned the Kirkus Star with publication dates between November 1, 2014, and October 31, 2015 (see FAQ for exceptions), are automatically nominated for the 2015 Kirkus Prize, and the winners will be selected on October 15, 2015, by an esteemed panel composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.