The George Washington Prize honors the year’s outstanding works on George Washington and his times (the Revolutionary and founding eras circa 1760-1820), especially those that have the potential to reach a broad, non-scholarly public audience and promote a expansive understanding of American history.

Created in 2005, the George Washington Prize was presented that year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton. One of the nation’s largest literary awards, the prestigious $50,000 Prize is sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Each year, a three member jury chooses prize finalists who are announced on George Washington’s birthday. A final selection committee reviews the finalists and chooses a winner.

2017 George Washington Prize Winner

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Nathaniel Philbrick

Valiant Ambition is a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Philbrick creates a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and of the war that gave birth to a nation. He focuses on loyalty and personal integrity as he explores the relationship between Washington and Arnold — an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington’s unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.

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