Columbia Journalism School


Winners of 2012 Lukas Prize Project Awards announced

March 15, 2012

Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism have named the 2012 winners of the Lukas Prize Project Awards.

A Vanderbilt University professor has won the 2012 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for his sensitive account of the fine line people of mixed race have tread in the United States since the nation’s beginning. The Mark Lynton History Prize will go to a University of Virginia professor for her unusual and groundbreaking work on the history of common sense. The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award was won by a former A.P. reporter and editor who is completing a book on the world’s inability to help Haiti.


The judges said of “The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White” (Penguin Press) by Daniel J. Sharfstein, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University: “The book makes real the fact that, not so long ago, American citizens were forced into hiding their lineage and identity just to live free in this democracy, the perils and sense of loss, no matter which road they chose, and the price being paid even to this day by their descendents, and by extension, all of us.” The winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize receives $10,000. One finalist was named: the late Manning Marable for “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" (Viking Press).


Sophia Rosenfeld’s “Common Sense: A Political History” (Harvard University Press) is an “...extraordinary, wide-ranging, and original work that takes on the unexpected topic of common sense (what everyone knows), gives it a history, and shows how central it is for the evolution of our modern understanding of politics,” the judges said. Rosenfeld is a professor of history at the University of Virginia. The winner of the Mark Lynton History Prize receives $10,000. The judges named two finalists: Michael Willrich, for “Pox: An American History” (Penguin Press), and Craig Harline for “Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America” (Yale University Press).


“The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster” (Palgrave Macmillan) by Jonathan M. Katz won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. The prize is given to aid the completion of a significant work of nonfiction. The judges said: “Katz is a great storyteller who enmeshes the reader in a lively web of history, incident, and examples of humanity pushing through disaster, hard luck, iniquity, and triumph to muck it up all over again.” The winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award receives $30,000. The judges named one finalist: Susan Southard for “Nagasaki”
(Viking Penguin).

The awards will be presented to the winners and finalists on May 1, 2012 at a ceremony at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation co-administer the awards.

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