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National Book Awards

1980-1989

1980

Winner

Lauren Bacall By Myself by Lauren Bacall


Finalists

  • I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon
  • Front & Center by John Houseman
  • Obituaries by William Saroyan

Winner

Max Perkins : Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg


Finalists

  • Samuel Johnson : a Biography by W> Jackson Bate
  • American Caesar : Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964 by William Manchester
  • Robert Kennedy and His Times by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
American Caesar : Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964

Robert Kennedy and His Times

Winner

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle


Finalists

  • Alan and Naomi by Myran Levoy
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katerine Paterson
  • Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life by Maurice Sendak
Frog and Toad Are Friends

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Winner

Sophie's Choice by William Styron


Finalists

  • Just Above My Head by James Baldwin
  • The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
  • The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
  • Endless Love by Scott Spencer
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

1981

Winner

Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary


Finalists

  • All Together Now by Sue Ellen Bridgers
  • Tex by S. E. Hinton
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Tex

Winner

The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever


Finalists

  • The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan
  • The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
  • Endless Love by Scott Spencer
  • War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
The Year of the French

The Executioner's Song

Winner

China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston


Finalists

  • The Dream of the Golden Mountains by Malcolm Cowley
  • From a Limestone Ledge by John Graves
  • Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky
  • American Dreams : Lost & Found by Studs Terkel
From a Limestone Ledge

Winner

The Panda's Thumb : More Reflections on Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould


Finalists

  • The Abyss of Time by Claude C. Albritton, Jr.
  • Galaxies by Timothy Ferris
  • Cosmos by Carl Sagan

1982

Winner

Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough


Finalists

  • Waldo Emerson by Gay WIlson Allen
  • Jefferson and His Time : the Sage of Monticello by Dumas Malone
  • Grant : a Biography by William S. McFeely
  • The Beechers by Milton Rugoff
Waldo Emerson

Winner

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg


Finalists

  • A Farmer's Alphabet by Mary Azarian
  • Hosie's Zoo by Leonard Baskin
  • Aesop's Fables by Heidi Holder
  • Images of Age by Michael Jacques

Winner

Rabbit is Rich by John Updike


Finalists

  • Jambo Means Hello : Swahili Alphabet Book by Muriel and Tom Feelings
  • Ellis Island and Other Stories by Mark Helprin
  • The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
  • The Fledgling by Jane Langton
  • The Peaceable Kingdom : the Shaker Abecedarius by Alice and Martin Provensen
  • The Angry Moon by William Sleator and Blair Lent
  • A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone
  • Stanley and Rhoda by Rosemary Wells
  • Dad by William Wharton
Jambo Means Hello

The Fledgling

The Angry Moon

Dad

Winner

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky


Finalists

  • Anatomy of an Illness : as Perceived by the Patient by Norman Cousins
  • African Calliope : a Journey to the Sudan by Edward Hoagland
  • Great Expectations : America & the Baby Boom Generation by Landon Y. Jones
  • Nature and Culture : American Landscape Painting, 1825-1875 by Barbara Novak
Anatomy of an Illness

1983

Winner

Isak Dinesen : the Life of a Storyteller by Judith Thurman


Finalists

  • Growing Up by Russell Baker
  • The Path to Power : the Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro
  • Tumultuous Years : the Presidency of Harry S. Truman, 1949-1953 by Robert J. Donovan
  • Sketches from Life : the Early Years by Lewis Mumford
Growing Up

The Path to Power : the Years of Lyndon Johnson

Winner

The Color Purple by Alice Walker


Finalists

  • A Mother and Two Daughers by Gail Godwin
  • Shiloh and Other Stories by Bobbie Ann Mason
  • The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
  • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
A Mother and Two Daughters

The Mosquito Coast

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Winner

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty


Finalists

  • The Chaneysville Incident by David Bradley
  • The Company of Women by Mary Gordon
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  • A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone
The Company of Women

Winner

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor


Finalists

  • Matters of Chance by Gail Albert
  • My Old Sweetheart by Susanna Moore
  • Almost Famous by David Small
  • The 13th Valley by John M. Del Vecchio

Winner

National Defense by James Fallows


Finalists

  • Joe McCarthy and the Press by Edwin R. Bayley
  • Abroad by Paul Fussell
  • Everything We Had : an Oral History of the Vietnam War by Al Santoli
  • Pioneer Women : Voices from the Kansas Frontier by Joanna L. Stratton
Pioneer Women : Voices from the Kansas Frontier

1984

Winner

Victory over Japan : a Book of Stories by Ellen Gilchrist


Finalists

  • Foreign Affairrs by Alison Lurie
  • The Anatomy Lesson by Philip Roth
Foreign Affairs

Anatomy Lesson

Winner

Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr


Finalists

  • Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn
  • Edisto by Padgett Powell

Winner

Andrew Johnson & the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845 by Robert V. Remini


Finalists

  • Becoming William James by Howard M. Feinstein
  • Thomas More by Richard Marius
  • The Nightmare of Reason : a Life of Franz Kafka by Ernst Pawel
  • One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
Thomas More : a Biography

The Nightmare of Reason : a Life of Franz Kafka

One Writer's Beginnings

1985

Winner

White Noise by Don DeLillo


Finalists

  • Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Tree of Life by Hugh Nissenson

Winner

Easy in the Islands by Bob Shacochis


Finalists

  • Slow Dancing by Elizabeth Benedict
  • Face by Cecile Pineda

Winner

Common Ground : a Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families by J. Anthony Lukas


Finalists

  • In the Name of Eugenics by Daniel J. Kevles
  • ...The Heavens and the Earth : a Political History of the Space Age by Walter A. McDougall

1986

Winner

World's Fair by E. L. Doctorow


Finalists

  • Whites by Norman Rush
  • A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor

Winner

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez


Finalists

  • War Without Mercy : Race and Power in the Pacific War by John W. Dower
  • The Paper : the Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribue by Richard Kluger
  • The Young Hemingway by Michael Reynolds
  • Tombee : Portrait of a Cotton Planter by Theodore Rosengarten

1987

Winner

Paco's Story by Larry Heinemann


Finalists

  • That Night by Alice McDermott
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Northern Lights by Howard Norman
  • The Counterlife by Philip Roth
That Night

Beloved

Winner

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhode


Finalists

  • Look Homeward : a Life of Thomas Wolfe by David Herbert Donald
  • Chaos : Making a New Science by James Gleick
  • Mothers in the Fatherland by Claudia Koonz
  • New York 1930 : Architcture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars by Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory GIlmartin, and Thomas Mellins

1988

Winner

Paris Trout by Pete Dexter


Finalists

  • Libra by Don DeLillo
  • Vanished by Mary McGarry Morris
  • Wheat That Springeth Green by James F. Powers
  • Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
Wheat That Springeth Green

Breathing Lessons

Winner

A Bright Shining Lie : John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan


Finalists

  • Reconstruction : America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner
  • The Enlightenment : an Interpretation by Peter Gay
  • Nora : the Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox
  • Jefferson and Monticello : the Biography of a Builder by Jack McLaughlin
Reconstruction : America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877

The Enlightenment, an Interpretation

Nora : the Real Life of Molly Bloom

1989

Winner

Spartina by John Casey


Finalists

  • Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow
  • Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  • Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Billy Bathgate

Geek Love

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

The Joy Luck Club

Winner

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman


Finalists

  • Parting the Waters : America in the King Years, 1954-63 by Taylor Branch
  • Danger and Survival : Choices about the Bomb in the First Fifty Years by McGeorge Bundy
  • Barbarian Sentiments : How the American Century Ends by William Pfaff
  • Mother Country : Britain, the Welfare State and Nuclear Pollution by Marilynne Robinson
Parting the Waters : America in the King Years, 1954-63