The books, which were chosen from 62 entries, include a masterful account of the Constitutional Convention, an insightful reconsideration of the Founding Fathers, and a lively and dramatic narrative of one of the most remarkable partnerships in American history.
The finalists are: Richard Beeman’s Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House), R.B. Bernstein's The Founding Fathers Reconsidered (Oxford), and Edith B Gelles’ Abigail & John: Portrait of A Marriage (William Morrow).
The $50,000 award—co-sponsored by
“Each of this year’s finalists tells the stories of some of the men and women who participated in the nation’s founding,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold director of
The winner will be announced at a gala celebration May 20 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens in
The finalists were selected by a jury of three distinguished historians: Theodore J. Crackel, Editor in Chief, The Papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia, who served as chair; Catherine Allgor, Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside; and Andrew Cayton, University Distinguished Professor of History at Miami University, Ohio.
They selected the finalists after reviewing 62 books published last year on the founding period in American history, from about 1760 to 1820—time of the creation and consolidation of the young republic.
Richard Beeman “has long been a jewel in the historical profession’s crown,” and in Plain, Honest Men, he has written what could be considered his “magnum opus,” the jurors wrote. They praised the book for its “clear, accessible prose” and its “willingness to engage the reader in a public conversation,” calling the work “the best modern account of the Constitutional story.” Beeman is Professor of History at the
R.B. Bernstein’s The Founding Fathers Reconsidered “is the product of a genius for concise analysis” that in its relatively few pages “has synthesized a generation of scholarship into an extended essay about the nature and meaning of the American Revolution,” the jurors reported. “He provides a straightforward account of men who were neither demi-gods nor scoundrels, but rather talented, imperfect human beings.” Bernstein is a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at
Edith B. Gelles’ Abigail & John: Portrait of a Marriage is the judges noted, “not only a lively telling of a most important chapter in our nation’s history, but also – and appropriately – a romance.” In this most recent exploration of the famous duo, Gelles “has added new dimensions, capturing the husband and wife in a truly multi-dimensional construct.” Gelles is currently a Senior Scholar at the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Studies at
You can read more about the George Washington Book Prize at gwprize.washcoll.edu.
The 2010 George Washington Book Prize Jurors
Theodore J. Crackel, chair of the 2010 Washington Prize jury, is Professor and Editor in Chief of The Papers of George Washington at the
Catherine Allgor is a Professor of History at the
Andrew Cayton earned a B.A. from the
About the Sponsors of the George Washington Book Prize
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization supporting the study and love of American history through a wide range of programs and resources for students, teachers, scholars, and history enthusiasts throughout the nation. The Institute creates and works closely with history-focused schools; organizes summer seminars and development programs for teachers; produces print and digital publications and traveling exhibitions; hosts lectures by eminent historians; administers a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state and U.S. territory; and offers national book prizes and fellowships for scholars to work in the Gilder Lehrman Collection as well as other renowned archives. Gilder Lehrman maintains two websites that serve as gateways to American history online with rich resources for educators: www.gilderlehrman.org and the quarterly online journal www.historynow.org , designed specifically for K-12 teachers and students.
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