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Jacqueline Jones, Chair 128 Inner Campus Dr., Stop B7000, GAR 1.104 Austin, TX 78712-1739 • 512-471-3261

History professor wins Pulitzer Prize for "Polio: An American Story"

Posted: April 17, 2006

“This book is the latest in a long list of superb work that David Oshinsky has given us,” said Richard Lariviere, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “He examines the historical record and shares it with the world in a way that illuminates human nature. I am pleased that the Pulitzer Committee shares our view that this is a wonderful and durable contribution to American history.”

“Polio: An American Story” details America’s obsession with the disease in the 1940s and 1950s. With no known cause and no available cure, polio was a frightening disease that held America in its grips until a vaccine was found. Oshinsky’s book examines the race between rival researchers Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin to find a cure. It notes that polio was actually a relatively uncommon disease, but was kept in the spotlight by an aggressive public relations campaign and unprecedented fund-raising efforts by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which founded the March of Dimes.

“This is a stunning achievement by a renowned member of our faculty,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. “The Pulitzer Prize is well deserved recognition of another seminal contribution David Oshinsky has made to American history.”

Oshinsky is the second University of Texas at Austin professor to win a Pulitzer Prize. The other was William Goetzman, who won the award in 1967 for his book “Exploration and Empire.”

Oshinsky is a leading historian of modern American politics and society and has been at the university since 2000. “Polio: An American Story” has received accolades from National Public Radio’s “Science Friday,” the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the New York Times and other media outlets. He is also the author of “A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy” and “Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice,” both of which won major prizes and were New York Times Notable Books.

Tower lights mark prof's win of Pulitzer Prize
The Tower will be lighted with a white top and orange shaft tonight (April 17) in honor of David M. Oshinsky, the George Littlefield Professor of American History, who today won the Pulitzer Prize in history for his book "Polio: An American Story."

"This is a stunning achievement by a renowned member of our faculty," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "The Pulitzer Prize is well deserved recognition of another seminal contribution David Oshinsky has made to American history."

Photos by Don Rogers and Marsha Miller respectively

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