Cape Cod resident Martin W. Sandler announced as finalist for National Book Award

Martin W. Sandler

Cotuit resident Martin W. Sandler has made it his life’s mission to inspire and educate younger generations with his writing. This philosophy paid off big-time, as Sandler was recently announced as a finalist for the 2019 National Book Awards in the category of Young People’s Literature.

The book that earned Sandler this honor is entitled “1919 The Year that Changed America.” He uses archival images to detail events in a year that had incredible impacts on the nation, including Prohibition, suffrage, and the recovery of America after World War I. Sandler traces the significance of these events to modern society, in an effort to engage and educate young readers.

Sandler describes young readers as his most important audience, insisting that he never writes down to them. He has written more than 60 books in his life, some for adults and some for young people, and never changes his language for either age group.


“Some of my adult publishers would wince at this, but [children] are my most important audience,” Sandler said. “And they are a hell of a lot smarter than we think they are.”

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Of the books Sandler has penned, two have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and four were Young Adult Library Services Association Nonfiction Award finalists. He also used to own a television production company and has won five Emmy Awards for his writing for television. Sandler has taught American history and American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Smith College.

He is currently working on two books. One chronicles the inception of airplanes and flight, and the other dives into the Farm Security Administration’s collection of photos from the Great Depression. And he doesn’t plan on stopping there.

“My greatest joy is that I still get so excited about what I do,” Sandler said. “My offices are on the second floor of my house, and I just bounce up there every morning.”

Ysabelle Kempe

Ysabelle Kempe can be reached at