Announcing the 2018 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards Shortlist | Columbia Journalism School

Announcing the 2018 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards Shortlist


The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University are pleased to announce the 2018 shortlist for the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Awards - the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize. The Lukas Prize Project marks its 20th anniversary this year.

The winners and finalists of the 2018 Lukas Prizes will be announced on March 27. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on May 10 at Columbia Journalism School in New York.

J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Awards (Two Winners to Each Receive $25,000): The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards are given annually to aid in the completion of significant works of nonfiction on American topics of political or social concern. The committee envisions the awards as a way of closing the gap between the time and money an author has and the time and money that finishing a book requires.


1. Chris Hamby’s SOUL FULL OF COAL DUST: The True Story of an Epic Battle for Justice (Little, Brown and Company)

“In a devastating and urgent work of investigative journalism, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hamby uncovers the terrifying resurgence of black lung disease in Appalachia and the systematic deprivation of benefits to ailing coal miners.”


2. Arthur Holland Michel’s EYES IN THE SKY (Eamon Dolan Books)

“Chronicles the rise of a new generation of powerful airborne surveillance technologies and examines what it means for society when we are all watched perpetually from above.”


3. Rachel Louise Snyder’s NO VISIBLE BRUISES: What We Don’t Know About Violence Can Kill Us (Bloomsbury Publishing)

“Through the stories of victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, and reform movements from across the country, Snyder explores not only the real roots of domestic violence, but also its far-reaching consequences for society, as well as what it will take to truly address it.”


4. Katherine E. Standefer’s LIGHTNING FLOWERS (Little, Brown and Company)

“Takes a hard look at American healthcare policies, technological mythos, and our cultural relationship to death, raising important questions about our obligations to one another, and the meaning of one life.”


5. Susan Vinocour’s NOBODY'S CHILD: A Tragedy, a Trial, and the History of the Insanity Defense (W.W. Norton & Company)

“Follows Barbara Briggs’s trial, explores the insanity defense, with its arcane legal definition ungrounded in psychiatric realities, and exposes the realities of criminal justice for the poor.”


2018 J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Award Judges: Barbara Clark (chair), John Duff, Chris Jackson

J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize ($10,000):  The J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize recognizes superb examples of nonfiction writing that exemplify the literary grace, the commitment to serious research, and the social concern that characterized the distinguished work of the award's namesake, J. Anthony Lukas.  Books must be on a topic of American political or social concern and must have been published between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2017.


1. Nate Blakeslee’s AMERICAN WOLF: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West (Crown)

“The gripping story of a wolf, O-Six, a charismatic alpha female, that was brought by conservationists back to the Rockies. A riveting multigenerational saga of hardship and triumph that tells a larger story about the ongoing cultural clash in the West.”


2. Jessica Bruder’s NOMADLAND: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (W.W. Norton & Company)

“A compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many of us.”


3. Amy Goldstein’s JANESVILLE: An American Story (Simon & Schuster)

“A close-up of a small Midwestern city – the hometown of Paul Ryan – that lost a slew of jobs during the Great Recession when General Motors’ oldest operating assembly plant closed two days before Christmas of 2008.”


4. Lauren Markham’s THE FAR AWAY BROTHERS: Two Young Migrants And the Making of an American Life (Crown)

“An urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration that follows twin El Salvadoran brothers, Ernesto and Raul Flores, as they make their way across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother in Oakland, California.”


5. Helen Thorpe’s THE NEWCOMERS: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom (Scribner)

“Follows the lives of 22 immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015 - 2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado.”


2018 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize Judges: William Shinker (chair), David Blum, Dale Russakoff



Mark Lynton History Prize ($10,000): The Mark Lynton History Prize is awarded to the book-length work of narrative history, on any subject, that best combines intellectual distinction with felicity of expression.  Books must have been published between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016.


1. Edward L. Ayers’s THE THIN LIGHT OF FREEDOM: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America (W.W. Norton & Company)

“A landmark history of the Civil War, that restores the drama of the unexpected to the history of the Civil War, setting up at ground level in the Great Valley counties of Augusta, Virginia, and Franklin, Pennsylvania, communities that shared a prosperous landscape but were divided by the Mason-Dixon Line.”


2. Jonathan Eig’s ALI: A Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“The definitive biography of an American icon, from a New York Times best-selling author with unique access to Ali’s inner circle.”


3. Frances FitzGerald’s THE EVANGELICALS: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster)

“The crucial story of how the Christian evangelical movement has come to play such an influential role in our national culture and politics, from the 18th century to the 2016 election.”


4. Caroline Fraser’s PRAIRIE FIRES: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books)

“The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE books.”


5. Stephen Kotkin’s STALIN: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 (Penguin Press)

“The definitive biography of Joseph Stalin. A history of the world during the build-up to its most fateful hour, from the vantage point of Stalin’s seat of power.”


2018 Mark Lynton History Prize Judges: David Maraniss, Ethan Michaeli, Sylvia Nasar, Elizabeth Taylor