Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Henry Tonn Picks Laura Hillenbrand

By Henry Tonn

What is your favorite National Book Critics Circle finalist of all time? The first NBCC winners, honored in 1975 for books published in 1974, were E.L. Doctorow (Ragtime, fiction), John Ashbery (Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, poetry), R.W.B. Lewis for his biography of Edith Wharton, and Paul Fussell (The Great War and Modern Memory, criticism). In 2014 the National Book Critics Circle prepares to celebrate nearly forty years of the best work selected by the critics themselves, and also to launch the new John Leonard award for first book. So we're looking back at the winners and finalists, all archived on our website, and we've asked our members and former honorees to pick a favorite. Here's the thirty-fifth in our latest in six years of NBCC Reads surveys.


My vote for the best book in the past 40 voted on by NBCC is Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I don’t know what more you can expect from a book: it is beautifully written, detailed, accurate, interesting, and she brings forth all the personalities clearly to the fore, including the horse. Certainly it was the one of these various selections over the years that I enjoyed the most.

Henry Tonn is editor of Remembrance of Wars Past: A War Veterans Anthology. His website is <a href=""></a>