Jefferson- Hemings History Wins National Book Award
Tome details founding father's slave family
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2008 6:31 AM CST

(Newser) – The heart-wrenching and controversial history of Thomas Jefferson's secret family with slave Sally Hemings took the top prize for nonfiction at the National Book Awards last night, USA Today reports. Annette Gordon-Reed became the first African-American woman to win the prize for her detailed exploration of the lives of three generations of the family in The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.

"Her book is at once a painstaking history of slavery, an unflinching gaze at the ways it has defined us, and a humane exploration of lives—grand and simple," the judges said of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country, a tale of a 19th-century Florida outlaw, took the top prize for fiction.