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A Brit’s Study of Washington the Military Man
Photo by Matthew Spangler
Photo by Matthew Spangler
CHESTERTOWN, MD—First president, father of his country, white-haired elder statesman. These are the thoughts and images that go through most minds upon hearing the name George Washington. But that’s just the ending. George Washington began his public life as a feisty frontier officer who would eventually lead an under-trained, under-resourced Continental Army to victory over the greatest military opponent known to the world. In George Washington: Gentleman Warrior, winner of the 2013 George Washington Book Prize, historian Stephen Brumwell brings a uniquely British perspective to the long and sometimes checkered military career of our most indispensible founding father.
Brumwell will share his insights at this year’s George Washington Book Prize Celebration at Washington College, on Monday, Oct. 14. His on-stage conversation, “Making History,” will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, and will be followed by a reception. Guests who arrive early will have an opportunity to meet George Washington and his aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, as portrayed by interpreters from the American Historical Theatre. Brumwell will be signing copies of his book in the Underwood Lobby beginning at 4:30 p.m. Hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the events are free and open to the public.
In honor of the book prize, General Washington and Mr. Hamilton will tour the campus earlier in the day, meet with students, and enjoy a special 18th-century menu available in the campus dining hall.
The full schedule for the celebration, Monday, October 14, is as follows:
Noon - Meet General Washington and Alexander Hamilton - Hodson Hall Commons
4:30 p.m. – Stephen Brumwell, Book Signing - Underwood Lobby, Gibson Center for the Arts
5:30 p.m. - “Making History: A Conversation with Stephen Brumwell” - Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts
6:30 p.m. - Public Reception - Underwood Lobby, Gibson Center for the Arts
“Stephen Brumwell’s George Washington is at once familiar and strikingly new,” says Ted Maris-Wolf, deputy director of the Starr Center, who will lead the October 14 conversation in Decker Theatre. “Through rigorous historical detective work and masterful narration, he shows us that our founding statesman viewed himself first and foremost as a soldier and saw his central legacy in terms of his accomplishments at the helm of the Continental Army.”
The Washington Prize jurors praised George Washington: Gentleman Warrior as “a wonderful read, very engaging,” with “deeply impressive” scholarship. “In the hands of this fine biographer,” they added, “Washington emerges as a flesh and blood man, more impressive than the mythical hero could ever be.”
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 Ph.D. in history. His Paths of Glory: The Life and Death of General James Wolfe (Hambledon Continuum, 2006) won the 2008 Society of Colonial Wars Distinguished Book Award and the 2008 Charles P. Stacey Prize. He also authored White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery and Vengeance in Colonial America (DaCapo 2006) and Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763 (Cambridge, 2002), and co-wrote Cassell’s Companion to Eighteenth Century Britain (Cassell, 2001). Brumwell has participated as an historian in numerous television and radio programs. In April 2012, at a gathering of historians at Britain’s National Army Museum, he successfully argued that Washington be named Britain’s greatest enemy commander.
The $50,000 Washington Prize was awarded to Brumwell at a black-tie dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in May. George Washington: Gentleman Warrior was first published in March 2012 by London-based Quercus Publishing. This fall, Quercus launched a North American publishing program headquartered in New York, and Brumwell’s prize-winning book was one of the first titles released. (Follow this link to watch a brief promotional book trailer from Quercus.)
Sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Washington Book Prize is one of the largest literary prizes in the nation. Awarded annually for the year’s best book about America’s founding era, it particularly recognizes well-written books that speak to general audiences and contribute to a broad public understanding of the American past.
The Prize was created in 2005 and was awarded that year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton. Subsequent winners wereStacy Schiff, Charles Rappleye, Marcus Rediker, Annette Gordon-Reed, Richard Beeman, Pauline Maier, and Maya Jasanoff.
About the Sponsors of the Washington Prize:
Founded in 1782, Washington College was the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the College, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the College in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded at the College in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs.
Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers and students that now operate in all 50 states, including a website that features the more than 60,000 unique historical documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection, www.gilderlehrman.org. Each year the Institute offers support and resources to tens of thousands of teachers, and through them enhances the education of more than a million students. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Organization of American Historians.
Since 1860, more than 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853. Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital, at the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway.