Book Awards

Due to new priorities for the organization created by our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities will no longer offer the Book of the Year Award.

Stay tuned for new programs that will celebrate the humanities and the critical role of books.

If you have any questions please contact James Kirkland at or 609.695.4838.

among the ruins2015 Popular Humanities Book Award 

Christian Sahner has received the award in popular humanities nonfiction for his book Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present.

Timely and accessible, Among the Ruins illuminates the current civil war in Syria by exploring the country’s long history, including the rise of Christianity, the arrival of Islam, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the emergence of sectarianism. Sahner, who is completing his doctorate at Princeton University, joins this history to an account of his personal travels in the region. The result is a compelling blend of history and memoir.

churchill2015 Scholarly Humanities Book Award 

Jonathan Rose has won in the category of scholarly humanities nonfiction for The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor.

The Literary Churchill uses Churchill’s career as a best-selling author to explore his actions as a statesman. Award committee members called the book “splendid,” and praised its insight into the man and his times. Rose is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History at Drew University and a past NJCH Book Award winner.


  • 2014 New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book of the Year, Thomas Healy, The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America (Metropolitan Books, 2013)
  • NJ350 History and Culture Book Award, Jonathan Schuppe, A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City (Henry Holt, 2013)
  • 2013 Holly Metz, Killing the Poormaster: A Saga of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression (Chicago Review Press, 2012)
  • 2012 Kenneth Slawenski, J. D. Salinger: A Life (Random House, Inc., 2011)
  • 2011 Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen,
    (W. W. Norton & Company, 2010)
  • 2010 John V. Fleming, The Anti-Communist Manifestos: 4 Books That Shaped the Cold War,
    (W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)
  • 2009 Annette Gordon-Reed , The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,
    (W. W. Norton & Company, 2008)
  • 2008 Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present
    (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007)
  • 2007 Jonathan Alter, The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope
    (Simon and Schuster, 2006)
  • 2006 Patricia Tyson Stroud, The Man Who Had Been King: The American Exile of Napoleon’s Brother Joseph (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005)

Recent NJCH Honor Books

2013 NJCH Honor Books

  • Justin Wolff, Thomas Hart Benton: A Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)
  • Hendrik Hartog, Someday All This Will Be Yours: A History of Inheritance and Old Age (Harvard University Press, 2012)

2012 NJCH Honor Books

  • Stephen Baker, Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Cathy D. Knepper, Jersey Justice: The Story of the Trenton Six, Rutgers University Press
  • Melissa Lane, Eco-Republic: What the Ancients Can Tell Us About Ethics, Virtue and Sustainable Living, Princeton University Press

2011 NJCH Honor Books

  • Thomas Belton, Protecting New Jersey’s Environment: From Cancer Alley to the New Garden State, Rutgers University Press
  • Ann Fabian, The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead, University of Chicago Press
  • Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People, W.W. Norton & Company
  • Michael Perino, The Hellhound of Wall Street: How Ferdinand Pecora’s Investigation of the Great Crash Forever Changed American Finance, The Penguin Press
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