The Forest Unseen wins “Best Book Award” from the National Academies

The Forest Unseen has won the “Best Book Award” in the 2013 Communication Awards from the National Academies.

I’m absolutely thrilled that they chose the book. Giving voice to the incredible scientific stories that lie hidden away inside the ivory tower was one of reasons I started this project. That the National Academies should find merit in the result of this work is stunning and gratifying, to say the least. I’m also very humbled to be in the incredible company of the other finalists and winners (see below for the full list).

The award is given by the The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, with support from the Keck Foundation. The full press release is reproduced below and is found on the National Academies website.

Press release: The Forest Unseen Wins Best Book Award From National Academies; Science Magazine, PRI’s ‘The World,’ and USA Today Also Take Top Prizes


WASHINGTON — The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine announced today the recipients of the 2013 Communication Awards. Supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation since 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious annual awards — each of which includes a $20,000 prize — recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Oct. 16 at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.


“We had a wide range of outstanding nominees from which to choose,” said May Berenbaum, chair of the 11-member communication awards selection committee, an NAS member, and professor and head of entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “The winners are excellent examples of science communication that can inform and engage the public.”


Selected from approximately 300 print, broadcast, and online entries, the recipients of this year’s awards for works published or aired in 2012 are:



David George Haskell for The Forest Unseen (Viking Penguin)

“…for his exquisite portrait of nature’s universe, drawn from one tiny patch of forest.”



Joanne Silberner, David Baron, and PRI’s “The World” for “Cancer’s Lonely Soldier,” “Pink Ribbons to Haiti,” “An Ounce of Prevention,” and “The Infectious Connection”

“…for shining a light on the hidden toll cancer takes in impoverished nations, killing more people than HIV, malaria, and TB combined.”



Eliot Marshall, Elizabeth Culotta, Ann Gibbons, and Greg Miller at Science for their stories “Parsing Terrorism,” “Roots of Racism,” “The Ultimate Sacrifice,” and “Drone Wars,” which appeared in a special issue on human conflict (May 18, 2012)

“…for an articulate, wide-ranging examination of what social scientists have learned about human violence, conflict, and terrorism.”



Alison Young and Peter Eisler (reporters), John Hillkirk (content editor), and the entire team at USA TODAY for the series “Ghost Factories”

“…for a nationwide investigation of abandoned lead factories that armed reporters and citizens with the knowledge and technology to recognize threats in their own backyards.”



The following were finalists:


David Quammen for Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (W.W. Norton and Co.)


Paula Apsell and Sarah Holt for “Cracking Your Genetic Code” (WGBH/NOVA and Holt Productions)


Nell Greenfield-Boyce for “Scientists Take Cautious Tack on Bird Flu Research,” “Scientists Debate How to Conduct Bird Flu Research,” “Bird Flu Studies Getting Another Round of Scrutiny by Panel,” and “Bird Flu Researchers to Meet About Research Moratorium” (NPR)


Jeff Montgomery, Molly Murray, and Dan Garrow for “Climate Change Puts Coast in Crosshairs,” The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.


            The Keck Futures Initiative was created in 2003 to encourage interdisciplinary research and is funded by a 15-year, $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.  Nominations for the 2014 Communication Awards will be accepted in early 2014 for work published or broadcast in 2013.  For more information on the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative and the Communication Awards, please visit  For more information about the W.M. Keck Foundation, please visit


            Members of the media who would like to attend this year’s awards ceremony on Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C., should email to receive complimentary tickets.


            The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.  The Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  For more information, visit




William J. Skane, Executive Director

Molly Galvin, Senior Media Officer

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail

Twitter: @NAS_news and @NASciences

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49 thoughts on “The Forest Unseen wins “Best Book Award” from the National Academies

  1. Taylor, Jennifer

    Holy Mackerel! WOW. CONGRATULATIONS. What a huge honor. I enjoy your posts and didn’t even register about the book.. Now I will look for it.
    NICE work. And thanks for increasing the worlds love for nature and conservation – in a very beautiful way.
    Jennifer Taylor, Wenatchee WA

    Jennifer Taylor | Interim Managing Director HR, Labor & Safety | office 509.661.4704 | cell 509.699.9993

  2. Katie Brugger

    Congratulations. Your book deserves a wide audience, and awards like this help spread awareness. In The Forest Unseen you did a phenomenal job of communicating complex scientific ideas in small, digestible segments, so it’s fitting that you won in a “communications” category.

  3. Pam Ruch

    That is wonderful, and so gratifying for those of us (i.e. your readers) who believe that the world would be a much better place if people would pay more attention to the natural world. Congratulations!

  4. Fountainpen

    How pleased you must be! I am happy with and for you!
    So is my inter-species community!
    Fountainpen, Moses II and Cricket

  5. Dan Gollub

    Congratulations. Your book helped me conceive the idea that dogs could detect healthy soil by its scent, and you responded to my email asking about this possibility.

  6. John D Peterson (jdpete)

    I have enjoyed your blog and your book, and I have given the book as a gift more than once. Congratulations!!

    John Peterson

    On Sep 5, 2013, at 2:38 PM, Ramble <> wrote:

  7. Howard Franklin


    Kudos to you on continuing to get noticed and rewarded for the excellence of your work. 

    Howard Franklin

    Calvin: They say the world is a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing his lines. Hobbes: Maybe that’s why it’s hard to tell if we’re living in a tragedy or a farce.

    Calvin: We need more special effects, dance numbers and cow bells.


  8. Gloria

    My husband and I enjoy hiking in the Cumberland Plateau area around Sewanee, and he gave me your book for my birthday last year. The blog is a bonus. Congratulations on the award!

  9. Tom Biskie, Illinois

    I am honored to have “The Forest Unseen” in my collection of books. Congratulations Dr. Haskell and thank you for sharing your Rambles with us.

  10. Kalyn

    Congratulations! Such a wise choice. I so appreciate the book, and greatly enjoy rereading passages from time to time. Is well worth reflecting on multiple times. Hopefully the award helps more folks find their way to, and benefit from, your book.

  11. Beth McPherson

    Yes, you do draw exquisite and captivating portraits. Thank you for them, and hearty congratulations! Please change my email address to

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Thank you!

      About email: if this is for emailing blog entries, you’ll have to enter the new address in the “subscribe” area. WordPress does not allow me to see or edit email addresses unfortunately.

  12. pathdoc70

    David, congratulations on this most deserved award on your excellent book. It is a delightful, informative read that I truly enjoyed.
    Best to you
    Mike O’Brien
    Valley Head, AL

  13. Jim Markowich

    Looks like my congratulatory comment didn’t stick.

    Your book is a fabulous read, from chickadees to kaydids, from lichen to golfballs. I’m on my second way through it now. This award is so well-earned!

  14. Pingback: Mandalas at National Academy of Sciences | Ramble

  15. Robley Hood

    My grandmother gave me a copy of Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek a month after it was published. Were she still alive, I’d give her your book. Both deserve their places on my bookshelves. Bravo!


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