Seven Books Named as Finalists for Annual George Washington Book Prize


Seven books published in 2020 by the country’s most prominent historians have been named finalists for the George Washington Prize. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in October.


Seven books published in 2020 by the country’s most prominent historians have been named finalists for the George Washington Prize. The annual award recognizes the past year’s best works on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance a broad public understanding of early American history.

“Every day we see evidence that Americans care deeply about the history of the founding of the United States,” commented Doug Bradburn, President of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “Each of these books provides a window into that transformational era, and sheds light as well on the world we are all making together... all worthy finalists in a very competitive field.”

Created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Washington College, the $50,000 George Washington Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most notable literary awards.

“At a time when questions about America’s past are so central to discussions of our nation’s present and future, books like these are essential reading,” said Adam Goodheart, Director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

Written to engage a wide public audience, the selected books provide a “go-to” reading list for anyone interested in learning more about George Washington, his contemporaries, and the founding of the United States of America.

The 2021 George Washington Prize finalists are (in alphabetical order):

  • Mark Boonshoft, Aristocratic Education and the Making of the American Republic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press)
  • Vincent Brown, Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press)
  • Peter Cozzens, Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Age of Phyllis (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press)
  • Michael W. McConnell, The President Who Would Not Be King: Executive Power under the Constitution (Princeton: Princeton University Press)
  • Mary Beth Norton, 1774: The Long Year of Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf)
  • William G. Thomas III, A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War (New Haven: Yale University Press)

The prize will be awarded to the 2021 winner at a ceremony held at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home in Virginia, on October 20, 2021.  The ceremony will also recognize past winner, Rick Atkinson, for his book The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (Henry Holt), as it was not possible to hold the event in person last year.

More information about the George Washington Prize is available at