Book Prize Goes To Brit
He received the $50,000 prize—one of the nation’s largest literary awards—on May 21 at a black-tie dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
Breathing new life into a younger and edgier incarnation of our first president, Brumwell portrays a feisty frontier warrior who engaged the French and their Indian allies in brutal border skirmishes, and a tough mid-career officer who turned the Continental Army into the weapon that defeated the British Empire. Even while Washington fought the redcoats, Brumwell argues, he relied on British models of military organization and gentlemanly behavior in shaping his distinctive style of leadership.
“Stephen Brumwell’s book is a pleasure to read from the very first pages,” says Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. “He brings the frontier military experience to life—the vermin, the floggings, the constant fear of ambush and massacre. And readers get a vivid sense of Washington himself as a creation of eighteenth-century military culture.”
James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, which funds the award, says Brumwell “was way down in the scholarly weeds sorting out things most eighteenth-century specialists don’t know much about. I don’t know if we’ll get a Washington book this good ever again.”
Born in Portsmouth on England’s South Coast, Brumwell worked for many years as a newspaper reporter before he returned to school to earn a PhD in history. The author of three award-winning histories, he has participated as an historian in numerous television and radio programs.
The Washington Prize, honoring the year’s best book about America’s founding era, is co-sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.