Edward Lengel, Stacy Schiff, Stanley Weintraub: Finalists for $50,000 George Washington Book Prize

Historians in the News

CHESTERTOWN, MD - Out of a field of nearly 50 books on America's founding era published during 2005, three finalists have been named today for the 2006 George Washington Book Prize. At $50,000, it is the nation's largest book prize for early American history. Presented by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington's Mount Vernon, the prize was launched in 2005 to recognize published works contributing to a greater understanding of the life and career of George Washington and/or the founding era.

This year's finalists are General George Washington: A Military Life by Edward Lengel (Random House), A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America by Stacy Schiff (Henry Holt), and Iron Tears: America's Battle for Freedom, Britain's Quagmire: 1775-1783 by Stanley Weintraub (Free Press). The winner of last year's prize-the inaugural award-was Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton.

Finalists were selected by a jury of distinguished scholars of early American history, including Carol Berkin of Baruch College, Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute, and Gordon Wood of Brown University.

"In each work selected, the jury saw refreshing perspectives on our nation's founding era," said historian Ted Widmer, director of Washington College's C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize."Although only one book will be selected for the award, all are worthy of special attention."

At $50,000, the George Washington Book Prize is one of the largest non-fiction prizes in the United States. (The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award both award $10,000 to recipients.) The winner will be announced during ceremonies on Tuesday, May 23, 2006, at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens in Virginia.

The annual prize is administered by Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, launched in 2001 as an innovative forum for new scholarship about American history, culture, and politics. Washington College, located in colonial Chestertown, Md., was founded in 1782 and was the only institution of higher learning that the first president patronized during his lifetime, donating not only funds but also his name to the institution.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. Increasingly national and international in scope, the Institute targets audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It creates history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, partners with school districts to implement Teaching American History grants, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians. The Institute also funds awards including the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and George Washington Book Prizes and offers fellowships for scholars to work in history archives, including the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

The oldest national preservation organization in America, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has owned and managed the home of George Washington for nearly 150 years, opening its doors annually to approximately one million people. The George Washington Book Prize is an important component in the Association's educational outreach program, which engages millions of teachers and students throughout the nation.

For more information, visit gwprize.washcoll.edu.

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