Emeritus professor of American history David Brion Davis won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in general nonfiction for his book “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation,” the National Book Critics Circle announced Thursday.
Davis’s book concludes his trilogy about slavery in the Western world, following “The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture” (1966) and “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823” (1975). The final book explores the significance of slavery and emancipation to Americans, detailing especially the role of black abolitionism. The volume not only analyzes slavery’s historical effects but also engages with its moral challenges.
“This superb book should be essential reading for anyone wishing to understand our complex and contradictory past,” Brenda Wineapple wrote of the book in the New York Times Sunday Book Review last March.
Davis was also awarded the 2013 National Humanities Medal, and previous books have garnered such honors as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award in History and Biography and the Bancroft Prize.
The awards, announced at the New School in New York, also honored Claudia Rankine for poetry, Marilynne Robinson for fiction and Roz Chast for autobiography. The NBCC was founded in April 1974, and now includes nearly 600 members. The awards, given each March, honor literature published in the United States in six categories: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography and criticism. Each year the organization also honors the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, which this year went to author Toni Morrison.
Davis came to Yale in 1970 and retired from full-time teaching in 2001.