Skip to main content


NEH & Books

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Dozens of authors supported by NEH have won major prizes and profoundly influenced the way we understand history, politics, literature and society. Listed below are volumes honored by the Pulitzer Prize and/or the Bancroft Prize, two of the nation’s most prestigious book awards.

  • 2014 Bancroft Prize Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013).
  • 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Biography Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Knopf, 2005). “ . . . a standout in two genres: biography and social history.” – San Francisco Chronicle
  • 2004 Pulitzer Prize in History Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (Belknap Press, 2003). “… ambitious and fascinating” – The New Yorker
  • 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Biography William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (W. W. Norton, 2004). “ . . . shines with mastery and authority.” – New York Times Book Review
  • 2003 Bancroft Prize Alan Gallay, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670- 1717 (Yale University Press, 2002). “A majestic volume . . . [that] will reshape our understanding . . . of the colonial South . . . .” – Georgia Historical Quarterly
  • 2002 Pulitzer Prize in History Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2001). “Hugely ambitious, unmistakably brilliant” – The New York Times
  • 2002 Bancroft Prize James F. Brooks, Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2002).
  • 2001 Bancroft Prize Susan Lee Johnson, Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (W. W. Norton, 2000).
  • 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Biography Stacy Schiff, Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) (New York: Random House, 1999).
  • 2000 Pulitzer Prize for History David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-45 (Oxford University Press, 1999) “This is the kind of book prizes are made for.” – Chicago Tribune
  • 2000 Bancroft Prize James H. Merrell, Into the Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier (W.W. Norton, 2000).
  • 1999 Pulitzer Prize in History Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (Oxford University Press, 1998). • “Gotham is a masterwork” – Baltimore Sun
  • 1997 Pulitzer Prize in History Jack Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997).
  • 1997 Bancroft Prize David E. Kyvig, Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution, 1776-1995 (University of Kansas Press, 1996).
  • 1996 Pulitzer Prize in History and Bancroft Prize Alan Taylor, William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995). “Marvelous . . . Taylor’s intellectual grasp never fails.” –The New Yorker
  • 1996 Bancroft Prize David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995).
  • 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Biography Joan D. Hedrick, Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life (Oxford University Press, 1994). “Intelligent, thoroughly researched . . . .” –The Wall Street Journal
  • 1994 Bancroft Prize Winthrop Jordan, Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry Into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy (Louisiana State University Press, 1993).
  • 1993 Bancroft Prize Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, The Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford University Press, 1992).
  • 1991 Bancroft Prize Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (Cambridge University Press, 1990). “This is an impressive and hefty piece of work.” – The Times Education Supplement
  • 1990 Pulitzer Prize in History and Bancroft Prize Laurel T. Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990). “A major source through which we can vicariously experience the rural life of early New England.” –The New York Times Book Review
  • 1990 Bancroft Prize Neil R. McMillen, Dark Journey: Black Missisippians in the Age of Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press, 1989).
  • 1988 Pulitzer Prize in History James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford University Press, 1988). “The finest single volume on the war and its background.” – The Washington Post
  • 1988 Bancroft Prize Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (Harper and Row, 1988). “This is history written on a grand scale, a masterful treatment . . . .” –The New Republic
  • 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Letters in History Bernard Bailyn, Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution (Alfred A. Knopf, 1986). A “superbly documented history” by an “indefatigable historian”—Publishers Weekly
  • 1986 Pulitzer Prize in Biography Elizabeth Frank, Louise Bogan: A Portrait (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985).
  • 1983 Bancroft Prize Nicholas A. Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist (University of Illinois Press, 1983).
  • 1981 Bancroft Prize (co-winner) Jean Strouse, Alice James: A Biography (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980).
  • 1981 Bancroft Prize (co-winner) Edward Countryman, A People in Revolution: The American Revolution and Political Society in New York, 1760-1790 (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981).
  • 1980 Bancroft Prize (co-winner) Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1923-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1979). “A dazzling narrative . . . elegant . . . history on the grandest scale . . . .” – The New York Times Book Review
  • 1980 Bancroft Prize (co-winner) Thomas Dublin, Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860 (Columbia University Press, 1979). “. . . a model of social history.” – The Yale Review
  • 1979 Pulitzer Prize in History Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (Oxford University Press, 1978). “Probably the most thorough study of any Supreme Court decision ever undertaken.” – New York Review of Books
  • 1976 Bancroft Prize R.W.B. Lewis, Edith Wharton: A Biography (Harper and Row, 1975).
  • 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Letters in History Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time (Little, Brown, 1968-75). “[O]ne of the great biographies of the 20th century” – The New Republic
  • 1970 Bancroft Prize Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (University of North Carolina Press, 1969).