For immediate release September 27, 2017

2017 Book Awards Short List

WASHINGTON, DC – The Phi Beta Kappa Society is pleased to announce the fifteen books, chosen by a panel of experts, that make up the 2017 Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards Short List.

The Society will announce the winning titles on October 2, 2017.

The winning authors will be honored at a gala dinner on December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC, at The National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Please contact for more information.

The Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science

The Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science honors outstanding contributions by scientists to the literature of science, encouraging literate and scholarly interpretations of the physical and biological sciences and mathematics.

2017 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science short list titles:

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, by Janna Levin* (Knopf)

The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Really Works and Why it Matters, by Sean B. Carroll* (Princeton University Press)

The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee* (Scribner)

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, by Cathy O’Neil (Crown Publishers)

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal (W.W. Norton & Company)

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Award

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Award presents scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity, including works in the fields of history, philosophy and religion as well as such fields as anthropology and the social sciences.  

2017 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award short list titles:

An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler, by Peter Fritzsche (Basic Books)

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, by Elizabeth Hinton (Harvard University Press)

Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, by Viet Than Nguyen* (Harvard University Press) 

Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present, by Erin L. Thompson* (Yale University Press)

Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea, by Mitchell Duneier (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)

The Christian Gauss Award

The Christian Gauss Award recognizes books in the field of literary scholarship or criticism.

2017 Christian Gauss Award short list titles:

Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination, by Vaughn Rasberry (Harvard University Press)

 Or Orwell: Writing and Democratic Socialism, by Alex Woloch (Harvard University Press)

Renunciation: Acts of Abandonment by Writers, Philosophers, and Artists, by Ross Posnock (Harvard University Press)

A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century, by Jerome Charyn* (Bellevue Literary Press)

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin (Liveright Publishing)  

View Excerpts and Reviews featured in the Phi Beta Kappa magazine, The American Scholar.

Weapons of Math Destruction:  How Big Data Increases Inequality and  Threatens Democracy (Excerpt) 

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space (Excerpt) 

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Review)

Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Excerpt) 

*Phi Beta Kappa Member 

Click here for more information on the Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards 


About The Phi Beta Kappa Society

Founded on Dec. 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at 286 colleges and universities in the United States, almost 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 U.S. Supreme Court Justices and more than 130 Nobel Laureates. The mission of The Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence. For more information, visit