Wright Wins Nonfiction Pulitzer Prize for 'Looming Tower,' McCarthy Earns Fiction Prize for 'The Road'

The Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction was awarded Monday to Lawrence Wright for his book, "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11," a penetrating analysis of how Islamic fundamentalism has reshaped the modern world.

Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff won the Pulitzer Prize for history for "The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation." The book traces how the civil rights struggle was covered by the press, breaking down prejudices within journalism and as well as in American society.

Cormac McCarthy won for fiction for his sparse, apocalyptic novel, "The Road."

Debby Applegate won for biography for "The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher," the 19th century abolitionist and preacher.

"It took me about 20 years to write this book from the time I stumbled upon Beecher's work and thought I'd write a college seminar paper on him," said Applegate, 39, who studied at Amherst College as an undergraduate.

David Lindsay-Abaire won the drama prize for "Rabbit Hole," about a wealthy, suburban couple trying to come to terms with the death of their young son, Danny, accidentally killed when he runs into the street and is struck by a car.

"It's a surprise," Lindsay-Abaire said when asked about winning. "I had processed months ago that it wasn't in the cards, so I was just going about my day, trying desperately to write a lyric for `Shrek,"' he said from his home in Brooklyn. He is writing the book and lyrics for a stage version of the hit animated film, expected to open on Broadway in fall 2008.

His play, "Rabbit Hole," had an acclaimed run last season for Manhattan Theatre Club at its Biltmore Theatre. The play starred Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery as the couple trying to cope with the death of their young son.

The jury had deadlocked on three entries in the drama category.

Three other plays were considered by the jury but none of them achieved a majority vote, according to Sig Gissler, who administers the Pulitzers. So the board made its own decision — and "Rabbit Hole" popped out of the hat.

The other finalists in the category were: "Orpheus X," by Rinde Eckert; "Bulrusher," by Eisa Davis; and "Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue," by Quiara Alegria Hudes.

Jazz artist Ornette Coleman won the music category for "Sound Grammar," his first release in a decade and only the second Pulitzer won by a jazz composer. Wynton Marsalis won the music prize in 1997 for "Blood on the Fields."

Coleman said his cousin notified him that he had won the honor. "I didn't believe him," Coleman told The Associated Press. "I'm grateful to know that America is really a fantastic country."

Natasha Trethewey, a professor of creative writing at Emory University, won for poetry for "Native Guard," a collection that honors the black soldiers who played a role in protecting a fort on the Mississippi coast during the Civil War. The racial legacy of the war echoes through the poems and a forgotten history of the South, according to publisher Houghton Mifflin.

Special citations were given to science fiction icon Ray Bradbury, 87, and the famed tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, who helped define sax playing in modern jazz. He died in 1967 at age 40.