Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join
NAIBA Legacy Award
Share |

 Legacy Award

In 2004, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association established a Legacy Award in recognition of those individuals whose body of work contributed significantly to the realm of American arts and letters. Candidates for this award were to either reside in the region served by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, or who created work that reflected the character of the geographical area so represented, and the spirit of the independent bookselling community found therein.


 photo credit J.Brough Schamp

Taylor Branch is an American author and public speaker best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, America in the King Years. The trilogy’s first book, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, won the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards in 1989. Two successive volumes also gained critical and popular success: Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65, and At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968. Decades later, all three books remain in demand. Some reviewers have compared the King-era trilogy, which required more than twenty-four years of intensive research, with epic histories such as Shelby Foote’s The Civil War and Robert Caro’s multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson.


Branch returned to civil rights history in his latest book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (2013).  It presents eighteen key episodes across the full span of the era, selected and knitted together in language from the trilogy, with new introductions for each of the chapters.  The result is a compact, 190-page immersion for readers in this transformative period of American history.  Beginning in the spring semester of 2013, Branch offers from the University of Baltimore an on-line seminar built around The King Years and other texts.


In 2009, Simon and Schuster published The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President. Far more personal than Branch’s previous books, this memoir tells of an unprecedented eight-year project to gather a sitting president’s comprehensive oral history on tape. The collaboration is a story in itself, born of mutual concern over the declining quality of raw material for presidential history. At the initiative of President Bill Clinton, Branch suspended work on the King books about once a month to meet secretly in the White House residence, nearly always late at night. They recorded candid observations for posterity. The book reveals a president up close and unguarded, perceived by an author struggling to balance many roles.


In the October 2011 issue of The Atlantic, Branch published an influential cover story entitled “The Shame of College Sports,” which author and NPR commentator Frank Deford said “may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.”  The article touched off continuing national debate., a pioneer e-book publisher, issued an expanded version of the article as a digital book and on-demand paperback, The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA. 

Aside from writing, Taylor Branch speaks before a variety of audiences—colleges, high schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, political and professional groups. He has discussed doctrines of nonviolence with prisoners at San Quentin as well as officers at the National War College. He has presented seminars on civil rights at Oxford University and in sixth-grade classrooms. His 2008 address at the National Cathedral marked the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s last Sunday sermon from that pulpit. In 2009, he gave the Theodore H. White Lecture on the Press and Politics at Harvard.

His musical sidelights have spanned the Atlanta Boy Choir in the 1950s, a high-school folk trio, and a contemporary octet for spirituals. In 2006, he and two friends reconstituted their 1960s college band as the cover group Off Our Rocker, which has recorded and released two CDs in playful tribute to the Beatles.


Branch began his career in 1970 as a staff journalist for The Washington Monthly, Harper’s, and Esquire. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from ten colleges and universities. Other citations include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and the National Humanities Medal in 1999.

Join NAIBA in celebrating the career of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Taylor Branch, the 2016 Legacy Award recipient. Mr. Branch will appear at the NAIBA Fall Conference Awards Banquet on Sunday, October 16 to receive his award. 


Previous winners of the Legacy Award




Richard Russo

Jules Feiffer


Judy Blume




Carl Lennertz



John Sargent
Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade of Politics and Prose
Paul Auster

Morgan Entrekin
Joyce Carol Oates
Louis Auchincloss




Pete Hamill


Anne Tyler