2020 PROSE Awards Name 157 Finalists in Five Far-Flung Categories

In News by Porter Anderson

From poverty and atheism to ‘The Wonders of Dry Desert Plants’ and ‘The Cigarette: A Political History,’ the 2020 PROSE finalist titles cover a dizzying range of topics.

As the last month is named the warmest January in 141 years of climate records, the AAP’s PROSE finalists list includes several titles in this and other aspects of Earth science. Image – iStockphoto: Hayriye Tellioğlu

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Top Prize is the RR Hawkins Award
If you’re a publishing awards organizer or a juror and you’re looking wearily at the first pile of submissions in your new year’s competition, you may feel a bit better to know this figure: 49. That’s how many subject categories are covered by the Association of American Publishers‘ new round of 2020 PROSE Awards.

In October, as you may recall, the call for entries went out, and more than 630 submissions later, the program’s 19 jurors have somehow gotten things down to 157 finalists.

The name of the program, PROSE, stands for Professional and Scholarly Excellence. These awards recognize scholarly works published in the United States in the arts, humanities, biological and physical sciences, reference, and social sciences.  And the works eligible for contention in this cycle of the program have to have been copyrighted in 2019.

There are five subject categories:

  • Biological and Life Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Physical Sciences and Mathematics
  • Reference Works
  • Social Sciences

And the most honored winner, the RR Hawkins Award recipient, is drawn from the winners in those five categories. AAP’s annual Professional and Scholarly Publishers forum in Washington on June 23 is the event in which the Hawkins Award winner is to be fêted.

Last year, Kathleen Hall Jamieson at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania won the Hawkins for her red-flag alert to publishers, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President (Oxford University Press, 2018). Our interview with Jamieson is here.

“How are we protecting the integrity of the publishing enterprise—which now is digital,” she asked, “from the kind of intrusions that would alter the meaning of texts that are secured right now inside what are, in essence, cyber-libraries, digital libraries?”

Her message to the publishing industry is that the digital dynamic that’s been powering its evolution for more than a decade may walk it right into an ambush of Alexandrian proportions, should the wrong actors take advantage of its contemporary vulnerabilities.

And in this US presidential election year, many are worried that the Trump administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill are opening the November electoral process to just such dangers as Jamieson describes.

On Wednesday (February 11), Jordain Carney at The Hill wrote, “Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Democrats to unanimously pass three election security-related bills Tuesday, marking the latest attempt to clear legislation ahead of the November election.” In that case, it was Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, who blocked passage of “two bills that require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission (FEC) about foreign offers of assistance, as well as legislation to provide more election funding and ban voting machines from being connected to the Internet.”

In this regard, the Jamieson selection was encouraging for its real-world importance.

As with winners in some of the international industry’s most prominent history awards–including Canada’s Cundill History Prize and the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global UnderstandingCyberwar is highly readable. A driving criterion in some of these awards programs today, when expertise is desperately needed, is the elevation of accessible intellect, writings by top-flight specialists whose analyses can be read and understood by consumers outside the academy.

If the AAP’s program can continue to surface such approachable perspectives, then the PROSE program’s service to the culture and the industry is validated.

On the other hand, there are topics here that will likely never be successfully marketed to a wider readership, even if that were the intent (and it’s not). Human Brainstem: Cytoarchitecture, Chemoarchitecture, Myeloarchitecture is not likely to be deeply stocked in many airport bookstores. That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable in its field, of course, but it does point to kind of esoteric range that characterizes many of these finalists. And that reminds us that choosing category winners and the Hawkins recipient may not be easy.

In a prepared statement from AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante, we read, “The quality of this year’s PROSE Awards submissions was ample testimony that scholarship is alive and well in every field of scholarly publishing. As always, it’s a professional honor and personal pleasure to be able to announce the finalists and their extraordinary works.”

News of subject categories is expected within weeks.

2020 PROSE Biological and Life Sciences Finalists

Biological Science

  • Good Enough: The Tolerance for Mediocrity in Nature and Society, Daniel S. Milo, Harvard University Press
  • Modern Statistics for Modern Biology, Susan Holmes, Wolfgang Huber, Cambridge University Press
  • Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease, Drew Harvell, University of California Press

Biomedicine & Neuroscience

  • Genome Chaos: Rethinking Genetics, Evolution, and Molecular Medicine, Henry Heng, Elsevier
  • Human Brainstem: Cytoarchitecture, Chemoarchitecture, Myeloarchitecture, George Paxinos, Teri Furlong and Charles Watson, Elsevier
  • The Aging Brain: Functional Adaptation Across Adulthood, edited by Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin, American Psychological Association
  • The Brain from Inside Out, György Buzsáki, Oxford University Press

Clinical Medicine, Nursing & Allied Health (including Social Work)

  • Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing, Françoise Baylis, Harvard University Press
  • Ethics, Conflict and Medical Treatment for Children, Dominic Wilkinson, MBBS, BMedSci, MBioeth, DPhil, FRACP, FRCPCH,  and Julian Savulescu, BMedSci, MBBS, MA, PhD, Elsevier
  • Physical Activity and Public Health Practice, Daniel B. Bornstein PhD, Amy A. Eyler PhD, CHES, Jay E. Maddock PhD, FAAHB, Justin B. Moore PhD, MS, FACSM, Springer Publishing
  • Sleep and Health, Michael Grandner, Elsevier
  • Urban Health, Sandro Galea, Catherine K. Ettman, and David Vlahov, Oxford University Press

Clinical Psychology

  • Clinical Psychopharmacology: Principles and Practice, Nassir Ghaemi, Oxford University Press
  • Secrets and Lies in Psychotherapy, Barry A. Farber, Matt Blanchard, and Melanie Love, American Psychological Association
2020 PROSE Humanities Finalists

Archeology & Ancient History

  • Climate, Clothing, and Agriculture in Prehistory: Linking Evidence, Causes, and Effects, Ian Gilligan, Cambridge University Press
  • Escape From Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity, Walter Scheidel, Princeton University Press

Architecture & Urban Planning

  • After the Projects: Public Housing Redevelopment & the Governance of the Poorest Americans, Lawrence J. Vale, Oxford University Press
  • Brooklyn: The Once and Future City, Thomas J. Campanella, Princeton University Press
  • Wright and New York: The Making of America’s Architect, Anthony Alofsin, Yale University Press

Art Exhibitions

  • Among Others: Blackness at MoMA, Darby English and Charlotte Barat, The Museum of Modern Art
  • Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World, Edited by Elizabeth Morison With Larisa Grollemond, Getty Publications
  • Caravans of Gold, Fragments of Time, Kathleen Bickford Berzock, editor, Princeton University Press

Art History & Criticism 

  • Climate Change and the Art of Devotion, Sugata Ray, University of Washington Press
  • Eastern Medieval Architecture, Robert G. Ousterhout, Oxford University Press
  • Gyorgy Kepes: Undreaming the Bauhaus, John R. Blakinger, The MIT Press
  • Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered, Carmen C. Bambach, Yale University Press
  • Picasso′s Demoiselles: The Untold Origins of a Modern Masterpiece, Suzanne Preston Blier, Duke University Press

Biography and Autobiography

  • Becoming Beauvoir: A Life, Kate Kirkpatrick, Bloomsbury
  • Born After: Reckoning with the German Past, Angelika Bammer, Bloomsbury
  • Chaucer: A European Life, Marion Turner, Princeton University Press
  • Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian, Sato Moughalian, Redwood Press
  • The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age, Leo Damrosch, Yale University Press


  • Herodotus and the Question Why, Christopher Pelling, University of Texas Press
  • Pindar, Song and Space: Towards a Lyric Archaeology, Richard Neer and Leslie Kurke, Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Reading Homer’s Odyssey, Kostas Myrsiades, Bucknell University Press
  • Soldier, Priest, and God, F. S. Naiden, Oxford University Press

Language and Linguistics

  • Disability Experiences: Memoirs, Autobiographies, and Other Personal Narratives, Thomas Couser and Susannah B. Mintz, Gale, a Cengage company
  • Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race, Jonathan Rosa, Oxford University Press
  • Transgender, Translation, Translingual Address, Douglas Robinson, Bloomsbury


  • Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World, Lyndall Gordon, Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Race and New Modernisms, Merinda Simmons and James A. Crank, Bloomsbury
  • The Bloomsbury Handbook of 21st-Century Feminist Theory,  Robin Truth Goodman, Bloomsbury
  • Writing Revolution in Latin America: From Martí to García Márquez to Bolaño, Juan E. De Castro, Vanderbilt University Press

Media and Cultural Studies

  • Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution, Martin Spinelli &  Lance Dann, Bloomsbury
  • Show Us As We Are: Place, Nation, and Identity in Jamaican Film , Rachel Moseley-Wood, The University of the West Indies Press
  • The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament,  Orlando Patterson, Harvard University Press
  • The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media, Kate Eichorn, Harvard University Press

Music and the Performing Arts

  • Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music, Kyle Devine, The MIT Press
  • Luis Buñuel:  A Life in Letters, Jo Evans and Breixo Vieja, Bloomsbury
  • The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Video Analysis, Lori A. Burns, Stan Hawkins, Bloomsbury Academic
  • The Cambridge History of Music Criticism, Christopher Dingle, Cambridge University Press

North American and/or US History

  • Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement, David K. Johnson, Columbia University Press
  • Exposing Slavery: Photography, Human Bondage, and the Birth of Modern Visual Politics in America , Matthew Fox-Amato, Oxford University Press
  • Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power, Pekka Hamalainen, Yale University Press
  • The Cigarette: A Political History,  Sarah Milov, Harvard University Press
  • What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War, Sarah E. Wagner, Harvard University Press


  • Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind, Susan Schneider, Princeton University Press
  • Learning from My Daughter, Eva Feder Kittay, Oxford University Press
  • The Logic in Philosophy of Science, Hans Halvorson, Cambridge University Press
  • The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud and Pseudoscience, Lee McIntyre, The MIT Press

Outstanding Work by a Trade Publisher

  • How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, Daniel Immerwahr, Farrar Straus and Giroux
  • Separate: The Story of Plessy v Ferguson, Steve Luxenberg, W.W. Norton & Company
  • Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, W. Norton & Company
  • Young Castro: The Making of a Revolutionary, Jonathan M. Hansen, Simon & Schuster

Theology & Religious Studies

  • Biblical Theology: The Convergence of the Canon, Ben Witherington, III, Cambridge University Press
  • Divine Words, Female Voices, Jerusha Tanner Lamptey, Oxford University Press
  • History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology, T. Wright,  Baylor University Press
  • Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt, Alec Ryrie, Harvard University Press

World History

  • A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States, Eric D. Weitz, Princeton University Press
  • Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities, Vaclav Smil, The MIT Press
  • Holocaust and New World Slavery, Steven T. Katz, Cambridge University Press
  • Jacob & Esau: Jewish European History Between Nation and Empire, Malachi Haim Hacohen, Cambridge University Press
  • Unearthly Powers: Religious and Political Change in World History, Alan Strathern, Cambridge University Press
2020 PROSE Physical Sciences and Mathematics Finalists

Chemistry and Physics

  • Chemical, Gas, and Biosensors for Internet of Things and Related Applications, Kohji Mitsubayashi, Osamu Niwa and Yuko Ueno, Elsevier
  • Imaging Optics,  Joseph Braat Peter Török, Cambridge University Press

Computing & Information Sciences

  • The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI, Marcus du Sautoy, Harvard University Press
  • The Information Manifold: Why Computers Can’t Solve Algorithmic Bias and Fake News, Antonio Badia, The MIT Press
  • The Joy of Search: A Google Insider’s Guide to Going Beyond the Basics, Daniel M. Russell, The MIT Press

Cosmology & Astronomy

  • Atlas of Mars: Mapping its Geography and Geology, Kenneth S. Coles, Kenneth L. Tanaka, Philip R. Christensen, Cambridge University Press
  • More Things in the Heavens: How Infrared Astronomy Is Expanding Our View of the Universe, Michael Werner and Peter Eisenhardt, Princeton University Press
  • Physics of Gamma-Ray Bursts, Bing Zhang, Cambridge University Press
  • The Number of the Heavens: A History of the Multiverse and the Quest to Understand the Cosmos, Tom Siegfried, Harvard University Press

Earth Science

  • Chemostratigraphy Across Major Chronological Boundaries, Alcides N. Sial, Claudio Gaucher, Muthuvairavasamy Ramkumar, Valderez Pinto Ferreira, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
  • The Anthropocene as a Geological Time Unit: A Guide to the Scientific Evidence and Current Debate, edited by Jan Zalasiewicz , Colin N. Waters , Mark Williams , Colin P. Summerhayes, Cambridge University Press
  • The Sun as a Guide to Stellar Physics, Oddbjørn Engvold, Jean-Claude Vial and Andrew Skumanich, Elsevier

Engineering and Technology

  • Handbook of Robotic and Image-Guided Surgery, Mohammad H. Abedin-Nasab, Elsevier
  • Human Body: A Wearable Product Designer’s Guide, Karen L. LaBat and Karen S. Ryan, CRC Press/Taylor and Francis Group – an informa business
  • Japan’s Quest for Nuclear Power and the Price it has Paid: Accidents, Consequences, and Lessons Learned, Noriko Behling, Thomas Behlind, Mark Williams and Shunsuke Managi, Elsevier
  • Linden’s Handbook of Batteries, Kirby W. Beard, McGraw-Hill Education
  • Lithium-Ion Battery Chemistries: A Primer, John Warner, Elsevier

Environmental Science

  • Finding Our Place in Nature: Aristotle for Environmental Scientists, Richard Lynn Shearman, RIT Press
  • Global Environmental Outlook – GEO-6: Healthy Planet, Healthy People, edited by UN Environment, Cambridge University Press
  • Oxford Handbook of Food, Water and Society, Tony Allan, Brendan Bromwich, Martin Keulertz, and Anthony Colman, Oxford University Press

History of STM

  • Assembling the Dinosaur: Fossil Hunters, Tycoons, and the Making of a Spectacle, Lukas Rieppel, Harvard University Press
  • No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein, Daniel Kennefick, Princeton University Press
  • The Pursuit of Parenthood: Reproductive Technology, Margaret Marsh and Wanda Ronner, Johns Hopkins University Press
  • The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, and Meaning of Menopause, Susan P. Mattern, Princeton University Press


  • 99 Variations on a Proof, Philip Ording, Princeton University Press
  • High-Dimensional Statistics: A Non-Asymptotic Viewpoint, Martin J. Wainwright, Cambridge University Press
  • The Shape of a Life: One Mathematician’s Search for the Universe’s Hidden Geometry, Shing-Tung Yau and Steve Nadis, Yale University Press

Popular Science and Popular Mathematics

  • Quantum Strangeness: Wrestling with Bell’s Theorem and the Ultimate Nature of Reality, George S. Greenstein, The MIT Press
  • The 9 Pitfalls of Data Science, Gary Smith and Jay Cordes, Oxford University Press
  • The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild, Thomas D. Seeley, Princeton University Press
  • The Mathematical World of Charles L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Robin Wilson and Amirouche Moktefi, Oxford University Press
  • Thermodynamic Weirdness: From Fahrenheit to Clausius, Don S. Lemons, The MIT Press
Reference Works

Best New Journal

  • Joule, Philip J. Earis, Brandon R. Sutherland, Changrong Zhu, Alexandra K. Stephan, Cell Press
  • Scientific African, editor-in-chief Benji Gyampoh. Scientific African is owned by the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) and operated by the NEF Community of Scientists, Elsevier
  • SSM – Population Health, Professor Ichiro Kawachi and Professor S. V. Subramanian, Elsevier
  • Verge: Studies in Global Asias, Tina Chen, University of Minnesota Press

Multivolume Reference

  • A Cultural History of Work Volumes 1-6, Deborah Simonton and Anne Montenach, Bloomsbury
  • Business & Culture of Sports: Society, Politics, Economy, Environment, Joseph Maguire, editor in chief; Mark Falcous and Katie Liston, Associate Editors, Gale, a Cengage company
  • Cambridge History of the American Civil War, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, editor, Cambridge University Press
  • Fishes of the Salish Sea: Puget Sound and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca, Theodore Wells Pietsch and James Wilder Orr, Illustrated by Joseph R. Tomelleri, University of Washington Press
  • Human Molecular Genetics, Tom Strachan, Andrew Read, Taylor & Francis
  • International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy, Renee Hobbs and Paul Mihailidis, Wiley

Single Volume Reference

  • A Companion to Atheism and Philosophy, Graham Oppy, Wiley
  • Cambridge History of Music Criticism, Christopher Dingle, Cambridge University Press
  • Marfa Garden: The Wonders of Dry Desert Plants. Jim Fissel, Martha Hughes, Jim Martinez, Mary Lou Saxon, Trinity University Press
  • Roman Architecture and Urbanism: From the Origins to Late Antiquity, Fikret Yegül, Diane Favro, Cambridge University Press
  • The Solitary Bees: Biology, Evolution, Conservation, Bryan N. Danforth, Robert L. Minckley, John L. Neff, and Frances Fawcett, Princeton University Press


  • Abstract Algebra with Applications, Audrey Terras, Cambridge University Press
  • An Introduction to Electrodynamics, Peter Davidson, Oxford University Press
  • Climate Mathematics: Theory and Applications, Samuel S. P. Shen, Richard C. J. Somerville, Cambridge University Press
  • Evidence-Based Practice for Nursing and Healthcare Quality Improvement, Geri LoBiondo-Wood, Judith Haber, and Marita G. Titler, Elsevier Inc.
  • Freshwater Ecology: Concepts and Environmental Applications of Limnology, 3rd Edition, Walter Dodds and Matt Whiles, Elsevier
  • Handbook of Sleep Disorders in Medical Conditions, Josée Savard and Marie-Christine Ouellet, Elsevier
  • On the Brink of Paradox: Highlights from the Intersection of Philosophy and Mathematics, Agustín Rayo, The MIT Press
  • Urban Engineering for Sustainability, Sybil Derrible, The MIT Press
Social Sciences

Anthropology, Criminology, and Sociology

  • Life and Death in Rikers Island, Dr. Homer Venters. Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving, Caitlyn Collins, Princeton University Press
  • Paternity: The Elusive Quest for the Father, Nara B. Milanich, Harvard University Press
  • Remaking a Life: How Women with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, University of California Press
  • Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth, Dána-Ain Davis, New York University Press

Business, Management & Finance

  • Link: How Decision Intelligence Connects Data, Actions, and Outcomes for a Better World, Lorien Pratt, Emerald Publishing
  • The 360° Corporation, Sarah Kaplan, Stanford University Press
  • The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West, Payal Arora, Harvard University Press
  • The Wise Company, Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, Oxford University Press


  • A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Committee on Building an Agenda to Reduce the Number of Children in Poverty by Half in 10 Years; Greg Duncan and Suzanne Le Menestrel, editors, National Academies Press
  • Law and Macroeconomics, Yair Listokin, Harvard University Press
  • Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events, Robert J. Shiller, Princeton University Press
  • The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets, Thomas Philippon, Harvard University Press

Education Practice

  • How Girls Achieve, Sally A. Nuamah, Harvard University Press
  • In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School, Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine, Harvard University Press
  • The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack, Harvard University Press

Education Theory

  • Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning, Linda Darling-Hammond and Jeannie Oakes, Harvard Education Press
  • Where Teachers Thrive:  Organizing Schools for Success, Susan Moore Johnson, Harvard Education Press

Government, Policy and Politics

  • Dying for Rights, Sandra Fahy, Columbia University Press
  • The Russian Understanding of War: Blurring the Lines between War and Peace, Oscar Jonsson, Georgetown University Press
  • Threat to Democracy: The Appeal of Authoritarianism in an Age of Uncertainty, Fathali M. Moghaddam, American Psychological Association
  • Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump, Allison Stanger, Yale University Press
  • White Identity Politics, Ashley Jardina, Cambridge University Press

Legal Studies

  • High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump, Frank O. Bowman III, Cambridge University Press
  • Origins of Order: Project and System in the American Legal Imagination, Paul W. Kahn, Yale University Press
  • The Cult of the Constitution, Mary Anne Franks, Stanford University Press


  • Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny, Michael Tomasello, Harvard University Press
  • The Emotional Mind: The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition, Stephen T. Asma and Rami Gabriel, Harvard University Press
  • The Psychology of High Performance: Developing Human Potential Into Domain-Specific Talent, Edited by Rena F. Subotnik, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, and Frank C. Worrell, American Psychological Association

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Association of American Publishers is here, more on digital publishing is here, and more on publishing and book awards is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.