The 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards were presented to Randall Kennedy for Race, Crime, and the Law and Samuel Hynes for The Soldiers’ Tale: Bearing Witness to Modern Conflict.
In Race, Crime, and the Law, Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School, not only uncovers the long-standing failure of the justice system to protect blacks from criminals, but he engages in the debate over the wisdom and legality of using racial criteria in jury selection. Kennedy also analyzes the responses of the legal system to accusations that appeals to racial prejudice have rendered trials unfair; examines the idea that, under certain circumstances, members of one race are statistically more likely to be involved in crime than members of another; and probes allegations that blacks are victimized on a widespread basis by racially discriminatory prosecutions and punishments. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, called Race, Crime, and the Law an “original, wise and courageous work that moves beyond sterile arguments and lifts the discussion of race and justice to a new and more hopeful level.”
Samuel Hynes’s The Soldiers’ Tale focuses on the two World Wars and Vietnam, and on the accounts written by victims of war and survivors of prisoner-of-war camps, the Nazi death camps, and the atom bomb. Hynes draws from the journals of troops on the front lines, prisoners enduring unspeakable ordeals, and works by prominent literary figures like Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Elie Wiesel, and Tim O'Brien. Hynes received the Distinguished Flying Cross as a Marine pilot in World War II. He is an Emeritus Professor of English at Princeton.