This feature appeared first on Booklist Online with the announcement of the Andrew Carnegie Medals Shortlist titles for 2015.
With the announcement of the six shortlisted titles for the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Fiction and Nonfiction, librarians and library patrons will be scrambling to read all the finalists before the winners are announced on Saturday, June 27, during ALA’s Annual Conference in San Francisco. For those who have already read the full shortlist and wish to find further reading, we offer read-alikes for all three nonfiction finalists below.
The first shortlist title, Bryan Stevenson’s harrowing and unforgettable Just Mercy (Spiegel & Grau), shares the author’s experiences representing poor and disadvantaged death-row inmates, many of them convicted without adequate legal representation. Try these similar titles:
The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions. 2005. By Helen Prejean. Random.
Sister Helen Prejean came to fame with Dead Man Walking (1993), her Pulitzer Prize–winning account of a murderer’s execution. Here, she reexamines the cases of two men she believes were executed for crimes they didn’t commit, arguing convincingly that evidence that might have cleared both men was knowingly withheld from the juries by prosecutors. A powerful critique of capital punishment and an all-too-familiar story.
In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance. 2010. By Wilbert Rideau. Knopf.
Unlike Walter McMillian, the unjustly accused man in Just Mercy, Rideau was guilty of murder. After his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on appeal, he parlayed his ninth-grade education into a role as editor of the newspaper of Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Both a searing indictment of the American penal system and a story of rehabilitation and redemption despite the odds.
Trout: A True Story of Murder, Teens, and the Death Penalty. 2012. By Jeff Kunerth. Univ. Press of Florida.
In addition to the story of McMillian, Stevenson in Just Mercy shares stories of juveniles sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for nonhomicidal offenses. In this superbly reported true-crime story, journalist Kunerth examines a murder-for-hire plot that ended with the wrong victim dead and three teens on death row. In the telling, both books argue compellingly for reform in juvenile sentencing.
The second shortlist title, Lawrence Wright’s Thirteen Days in September, analyzes the historic 1978 meeting at Camp David between Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, and Jimmy Carter. These related titles offer more background on the Camp David Accords and on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956–1978. By Kai Bird. 2010. Scribner.
This combination memoir and history begins in 1956, when Bird’s family moved to Jerusalem with his American foreign service father, and extends through the period of the Camp David Accords. Combining personal and political history, this is a deeply felt and moving chronicle of one person’s up-close view of the human cost of a seemingly endless conflict.
Egypt’s Road to Jerusalem: A Diplomat’s Story of the Struggle for Peace in the Middle East. By Boutros Boutros-Ghali. 1997. Random.
Former UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, who served as foreign minister under Sadat from 1977 through Sadat’s assassination in 1981, reports on the crucial negotiations that led up to the Camp David meeting. This insider’s account complements Wright’s book perfectly.
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the third nonfiction shortlist title, The Sixth Extinction, is not alone in perceiving the disconcerting realities of the Anthropocene, or Human Age. Readers who want to know more about this troubling topic will find further thought-provoking perspectives in these similar titles.
Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey into the Heart of the Planet We Made. By Gaia Vince. 2014. Milkweed.
In her environmental travelogue, which is arranged according to habitat—mountains, rivers, farmlands, deserts, oceans, and cities—science journalist Vince chronicles the ways people the world over are adapting to changes on our warming planet, and explicates a plethora of challenges, from drought to deforestation, ocean acidification, and mass extinction.
The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us. By Diane Ackerman. 2014. Norton.
Without denying that the Human Age has triggered global warming and a terrifying mass extinction, Ackerman banks on our ability to address looming crises with creativity and determination in this illuminating, witty, and resplendently expressive guide to a framework for a more positively human and humane future.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. By Naomi Klein. 2014. Simon & Schuster.
Klein presents a meticulously researched and lucidly argued analysis of how the joined forces of free-market capitalism, corporate greed, political corruption, and denial have foiled efforts to respond to global warming. She also tells us what we need to do to reverse direction.