Book Awards

Great Dissent hardcover

2014 New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book of the Year

Thomas Healy has won the 2014 New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book of the Year Award for The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America. The Great Dissent explores the life of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., three times wounded in the Civil War and who as a Supreme Court Justice was faced with deciding the fate of those who challenged the limits of free speech on the verge of World War I. Award committee members praised Thomas Healy’s masterful telling of one of the most erudite decisions in U.S legal history, calling it “as dramatic as the story of the classic film, Twelve Angry Men.”

Thomas Healy, The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America (Metropolitan Books, 2013)
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NJ350 History and Culture Book Award

Jonathan Schuppe has received the NJ350 History and Culture Book Award for A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City. The NJ350 History and Culture Book Award is a special award on a New Jersey topic in celebration of the state’s 350th anniversary. A Chance to Win tells the story of Rodney Mason, an ex-con drug dealer from Newark who turned his life around after he was shot and paralyzed. Mason, a former high-school pitcher, founded a Little League team to give Newark boys an escape from poverty, drugs, and crime in their neighborhoods.

Jonathan Schuppe, A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City (Henry Holt, 2013)

Recent Book of the Year Award Winners

  • 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)
  • 2005 David Hackett Fisher, Washington’s Crossing (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  • 2004 Suzanne Lebsock, A Murder in Virginia: Southern Justice on Trial
    (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003).
  • 2003 Arthur Hertzberg, A Jew in America: My Life and People’s Struggle for Identity
    (Harper San Francisco, 2002)

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

Award Criteria and Application Instructions

Each year NJCH selects for its Book Award a work of nonfiction in the humanities that encourages critical reflection and makes scholarly knowledge accessible to a general audience. The award will be presented at ceremony in the fall. Publishers are invited to nominate books that fulfill the following criteria.


  1. The author has a New Jersey connection either by birth, residence, or occupation at the time of submission, or the book is concerned primarily with a significant New Jersey subject. In either case, the author must clearly possess and display knowledge of the subject.
  2. The subject of the book is in one or several of the Humanities fields as defined by the National Endowment for the Humanities, including, but not limited to: literature, language, aesthetics, jurisprudence, history, philosophy, archaeology, comparative religion, ethics, and those aspects of the social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods.
  3. The book is a work of nonfiction that encourages critical reflection and/or makes scholarly knowledge available and exciting to a general audience.
  4. The deadline for nominations is April 1, 2014 for books published between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.
  5. Normally, edited or multiple authored works are not eligible.
  6. A book published in a foreign language is eligible only if it is available in English translation.
  7. Reprints may be nominated only if they were not nominated in the year that they were originally published.
  8. The winning author will attend the presentation ceremony.

Note:  The Award is annual and is granted to a single book. The NJCH reserves the right to make no award in a year in which no book is considered worthy of the Award. Likewise, the Council reserves the right to select up to five books as “Honor Books” during the competition, or to make no such designation in a year in which no books are considered worthy of this designation.

For each title nominated, please submit the following:

Completed application
6 reading copies of the book
A brief description of the book and a statement of why it deserves this award
Press kit for nominated title, including author photograph(s)
Important reminder: Publishers may nominate more than one title.

Award: $1,000 to the author

Download the nomination form here

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