Presenter of the National Book Awards

The Book That Changed My Life

Tina Rosenberg

Tina Rosenberg received The National Book Award in Nonfiction in 1995 for The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism.

Tina Rosenberg (right) pictured in 1995 receiving The National Book Award in Nonfiction for The Haunted Land. Pictured with her is (left) Bruno Quinson, former NBF Board Chairman, and (center) Neil Baldwin, the Foundation's Executive Director.

While my interests and style as a writer have been influenced by many books, including Move Your Shadow by Joseph Lelyveld (about South Africa; the title comes from an English to Fanagalo phrasebook's section of useful sentences for golfers need to say to their caddies) and Dispatches by Michael Herr (about the Vietnam War), the work that has shaped mine the most is Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt. When I first read it, I was captivated by her choice of subject - the use of justice to deal with the crime of a past dictatorship - and it became my subject in my book The Haunted Land, and in many of my magazine articles. I was also impressed by her use of a writer's voice to organize and interpret events for the reader, so that Eichmann's trial becomes a vehicle for Arendt's own controversial but impeccably argued ideas about guilt and responsibility. Every sentence is unmistakably Hannah Arendt - acerbic, clear and often funny.