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C.V. Starr Center for the

Study of the American Experience

Washington Book Prize

The George Washington Book Prize recognizes the year’s best books on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history.

The Men Who Lost America Wins
  $50,000 George Washington Book Prize!


The winner of one of the nation’s largest literary awards, the George Washington Book Prize, was announced Tuesday evening, May 20, at a black-tie affair at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The $50,000 prize went to the noted historian Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy for The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire (Yale University Press).

Now in its tenth year, the George Washington Book Prize honors its namesake by recognizing the year’s best new books on early American history.

While many books on the American Revolution celebrate the heroism of colonists overthrowing a despotic overseas government, O’Shaughnessy takes a different tack in The Men Who Lost America, reframing the Revolution from the British point of view. In ten deeply researched and clearly written mini-biographies of the major British political and military figures, he dispels popular caricatures of these men as tyrants and bumbling aristocrats and persuasively demonstrates that the British leadership was remarkably talented and able when faced with an unwinnable situation.

The Washington Prize jury praised the book as “ground-breaking” and “a major contribution to the history of the American Revolution.”

A dual citizen of Britain and the United States, O’Shaughnessy is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and a professor of history at the University of Virginia. Garnering popular and critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, The Men Who Lost America was nominated for BBC’s History Magazine Book-of-the-Month and received the New-York Historical Society’s prize for American History, the Cincinnati History Prize, and the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award.  

The award-winning book can be purchased through the Washington College Bookstore.

A jury of three distinguished historians, chaired by Gordon S. Wood and joined by Joyce Appleby and Annette Gordon-Reed, selected the finalists from among forty books published in the past year.  Washington College, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon co-sponsor the award which is designed to recognize new works with the potential to inspire greater public understanding of American history.

Full press release here. Andrew O’Shaughnessy discusses his book at the George Washington Book Prize gala.

View an interview with Andrew O’Shaughnessy here.

About the Prize 

imageCreated in 2005, the George Washington Book Prize was presented that year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton. Other winners are Stacy Schiff (2006) for A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, Charles Rappleye (2007) for Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, Marcus Rediker (2008) for The Slave Ship: A Human History,  Annette Gordon-Reed (2009) for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which also won the Pulitzer Prize for History, the National Book Award and the Frederick Douglass Prize, and Richard Beeman (2010) for Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution. In 2011, the Prize was awarded to Pauline Maier for Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1789 and in 2012 the winner was Maya Jasanoff for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. The 2013 Prize was awarded to Stephen Brumwell for George Washington: Gentleman Warrior. The George Washington Book Prize recognizes the year’s best books on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history.

Contact Information

Jean Wortman, George Washington Book Prize Coordinator 
E-mail: jwortman2@washcoll.edu
Telephone: (410) 810-7165
Fax: (410) 810-7175

Submissions should be sent to: 
George Washington Book Prize 
101 South Water Street
Chestertown, MD 21620