2022 New Deal Book Award
The Living New Deal (https://livingnewdeal.org)
Monday, November 14, 2022
Review Begins: 
Monday, November 14, 2022

Nominations for the 2022 Award are now being accepted.  Submission guidelines and nomination form may be found here:  https://livingnewdeal.org/annual-new-deal-book-award/

The Living New Deal is delighted to announce the winner of the New Deal Book Award for 2021, Scott Borchert,Republic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.   

The Living New Deal established the award in 2021, requesting nominations for nonfiction books about the United States in the New Deal era, 1933–1942. Twelve qualified nominations were received and reviewed by the jury chaired by Eric Rauchway and including Kimberley Johnson, Sharon Musher, Chloe Thurston, and Mason Williams.

By unanimous decision, the jury asked The Living New Deal to give the 2021 New Deal Book Award as follows:


Scott Borchert, Republic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Taking the reader metaphorically on a road trip across the country, Borchert weaves together biography and geography to paint a vivid picture of the Federal Writers’ Project. The tour takes in FWP director Henry Alsberg and contributors Nelson Algren, Vardis Fischer, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright, as well as the project’s formidable opponent, Congressman Martin Dies, Democrat of Texas. Reviving the eclectic style of the FWP state guides, Borchert draws on participants’ memoirs as well as research in the National Archives and the Library of Congress. He brings to life a world of protesting workers and Red-baiters, where women writers and writers of color both find opportunity and face discrimination. It is a beautifully written and timely book, whose ramble through the lives of New Dealers reminds us of what can be accomplished when the federal government supports American artists to create an enduring legacy. A fine examination of Washington’s role in encouraging the arts.


Mary Jane Appel, Russell Lee: A Photographer’s Life and Legacy. W. W. Norton & Company. This deeply researched and beautifully illustrated book offers a definitive account of Russell Lee, the most prolific—yet perhaps the most overlooked—of Federal Security Agency/Office of War Information photographers. Combining skillful biography and adept analysis of Lee’s images, Appel brings to life both the New Deal’s documentary impulse and Depression-era America as seen through Lee’s lens.

Honorable Mentions

William A. Link, Frank Porter Graham: Southern Liberal, Citizen of the World. University of North Carolina Press.

Catherine W. Zipf, Frank LLoyd Wright’s Fallingwater: American Architecture in the Depression Era. Routledge.

Winner Scott Borchert discussed his book as the featured guest on a Living New Deal webinar on August 31, 2021.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuRDdoVKu1s&t=15s.

The New Deal Book Award includes a $1,000 prize and will be presented to Mr. Borchert at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum’s 18th Annual Roosevelt Reading Festival in Hyde Park on June 18, 2022 https://www.fdrlibrary.org/en_US/events-calendar 



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