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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.

Washington College Announces Four Finalists for 2105 George Washington Book Prize

 

In celebration of George Washington’s birthday, Washington College named four finalists for the 2015 George Washington Book Prize.

Nick Bunker for An Empire on Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America (Knopf)
Richard S. Dunn for A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia (Harvard)
François Furstenberg for When The United Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation (Penguin Press)
Eric Nelson for The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding (Harvard)

 

One of the nation’s largest and most prestigious literary awards, the George Washington Book Prize recognizes the best new books on early American history.  The $50,000 award is sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Washington College. Now in its eleventh year, the award recognizes works that not only shed new light on the nation’s founding era, but also have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history.

This year’s four honorees spark new thinking on the American Revolution: its causes and principles, the meaning of liberty and freedom in the young democracy, and the impact of the Revolution that reverberated throughout the 18th-century Atlantic world.  Nick Bunker’s An Empire on the Edge:  How Britain Came to Fight America (Knopf) probes Great Britain’s internal tensions on the eve of revolution.  In The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding (Harvard) Eric Nelson turns upside down the conventional image of the war as a rebellion against a tyrannical king.  Richard Dunn’s new book, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia (Harvard), tackles one of the American Revolution’s most challenging issues: human bondage in an age of liberty.  And rounding out the slate of finalists, François Furstenberg’s collective biography, When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation (Penguin Press), explores how former French revolutionaries, émigrés to Philadelphia, influenced the growth of the new American republic.

Distinguished historians Rosemarie Zagarri, Philip Morgan and Ted Widmer served as the jury that selected the four finalists from a field of nearly 70 books published in the past year.  The winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced at a black-tie gala on May 20 at Mount Vernon.

Full press release.

Books are available for purchase at the College Bookstore

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 tenth Book Prize was awarded in 2014 to Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy for The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire.

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 $50,000 Prize is sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

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

Photo Galleries

  • Gallery Photo Thumbnail
    Washington College recently celebrated the 10th year of the George Washington Book Prize. 2014 winner Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy visited campus on Nov. 7th.
  • Gallery Photo Thumbnail
    The 2014 George Washington Book Prize was awarded on May 20 during a black-tie gala at Mount Vernon.  Sponsored by Washington College with Mount Vernon and the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History, the $50,000 ...
  • Gallery Photo Thumbnail
    The 2014 George Washington Book Prize finalists tackle fresh and engaging topics about the nation’s founding era. In The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire ...
  • Gallery Photo Thumbnail
    The C. V. Starr Center for the study of the American Experience honors Stephen Brumwell, author of George Washington: Gentleman Warrior .
  • Gallery Photo Thumbnail
    On Tuesday, May 21, the winner of the 2013 George Washington Book Prize was announced at a black-tie gala that began on the Piazza of Mount Vernon. The winner was Stephen Brumwell for George ...
  • Gallery Photo Thumbnail
    Guests enjoyed a lovely evening at Mount Vernon for the 2013 George Washington Book Prize gala. Sponsored by Washington College with Mount Vernon and the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History, the $50,000 prize honors ...