Book Awards

Award Criteria and Application Instructions

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities is accepting submissions for its 2015 Book of the Year Award. Please review these application guidelines and award categories carefully as they have changed from previous years.

The deadline for nominations is May 15, 2015.

This year, NJCH is offering awards to works by New Jersey residents in two separate nonfiction categories. Works published during the 2013 and 2014 calendar years will be considered. Titles published in 2013 and previously submitted for consideration for the 2014 NJCH book award are not eligible.

The award will be granted to a single book in each category. NJCH reserves the right to make no awards in either category if no books are considered worthy of the award. Books may be submitted for consideration in one category only.

Submissions in either category must be a work that engages the humanities, as defined by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This includes 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.


Popular Humanities Nonfiction: A work of nonfiction that encourages critical reflection and makes the humanities available and accessible to a general audience.

Scholarly Humanities Nonfiction: A work of original humanities scholarship and research intended for an academic

Please note:

The NJCH 2016 Book Award will honor publications in the category of New Jersey Nonfiction. Works published in 2014 and 2015 that use the humanities to explore a New Jersey subject or theme (contemporary or historical) will be eligible. Authors in this category need not be current New Jersey residents.

1. Authors must be living in New Jersey at the time their books are submitted for consideration. Part-time residents of New Jersey are eligible; temporary residents are not eligible.

2. Any individual, organization, or publisher may enter a book in any appropriate category.

3. Self-published books are eligible for the popular humanities category only.

4. Edited, multiple authored works are not eligible.

5. A book published in a foreign language is eligible only if it is available in English translation.

6. Reprints may be nominated only if they were not nominated in the year that they were originally published.

Please click the link below to submit your application.


In addition to the application to the application, please submit the following for each title nominated:

1. Author’s C.V. or resume. Please submit via email to

2. Four (4) copies of the book to the address below.

New Jersey Council for the Humanities
ATTN: James Kirkland
28 West State Street, 6th Floor, Trenton, NJ 08608

Important reminder: Publishers may nominate more than one title.

1. $1,000 to the winning author in each category.

2. Author will be invited to receive an award at a fall event.

3. Author may be interviewed on NJCH’s Humanities Connection radio program or invited to join NJCH’s Horizons Speakers Bureau.

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

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)

  • 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
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