1983: Stephen B Oates
Let the Trumpet Sound / The Fate of the Earth
1983: Stephen B Oates

The 1983 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award was presented to Stephen B. Oates for Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The book is a brilliant examination of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., that portrays a very real man and his dream that shaped America's history. 

Stephen B. Oates is the author of sixteen books. He was a consultant and “talking head” in Ken Burns's Civil War series on PBS and is a recipient of the Nevins-Freeman Award of the Chicago Civil War Round Table for lifetime achievement in the field of Civil War studies. A teacher at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, he is now writing the concluding book of the Voices of Storm trilogy, about the years of Reconstruction, 1865-1877.

Honorable Mention: The Fate of the Earth by Jonathan Schell

Now combined in one volume, these two books helped focus national attention in the early 1980s on the movement for a nuclear freeze. The Fate of the Earth painted a chilling picture of the planet in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, while The Abolition offered a proposal for full-scale nuclear disarmament. With the recent tensions in India and Pakistan, and concerns about nuclear proliferation around the globe, public attention is once again focused on the worldwide nuclear situation. The author is at the forefront of the discussion. In February 1998, his lengthy essay constituted the centerpiece of a special, widely distributed issue of The Nation dealing with the nuclear arms race. The relevance of his two books for today's debates is undeniable, as many experts assert that the nuclear situation is more dangerous than ever. Reviews of The Fate of the Earth "This is a work of enormous force. There are moments when it seems to hurtle almost out of control, across an extraordinary range of fact and thought. But in the end, it accomplishes what no other work has managed to do in the years of the nuclear age. It compels us―and compel is the right word―to confront head on the nuclear peril." ―New York Times Book Review "There have been thousands of commentaries on what this new destructive power of man means; but my guess is that Schell's book . . . will become the classic statement of the emerging consciousness." ―Max Lerner, New Republic Reviews of The Abolition "As always, Schell is interesting and ingenious, eloquent and sometimes moving. He presents his case with clarity, and with candor about its possible shortcomings." ―New Republic "A reasoned argument. . . . As this work will do much to stimulate the ongoing nuclear debate, it is highly recommended."