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Seven Books Named as Finalists for the 2018 George Washington Prize

MOUNT VERNON, VA – Seven books published in 2017 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-written works on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of early American history. 
“These are all great books by worthy authors and scholars,” said Mount Vernon president and CEO, Doug Bradburn. “Mount Vernon, already the most visited historic home in America, remains committed to encouraging and helping authors to tell great stories about the founding era that are both scholarly and widely accessible.  This prize has made a major impact on encouraging great new work on this essential era in our history—and we’re proud to be able to support it.”
Created in 2005 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.
The finalists’ books combine depth of scholarship and broad expanse of inquiry with vivid prose that exposes the complexities of our founding narrative. Written to engage a wide public audience, the 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 2018 George Washington Prize finalists are:
  • Max Edelson, The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence (Harvard University Press)
  • Kevin J. Hayes, George Washington: A Life in Books (Oxford University Press)
  • Eric Hinderaker, Boston’s Massacre (Harvard University Press)
  • Jon Kukla, Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty (Simon & Schuster)
  • James E. Lewis, Jr., The Burr Conspiracy Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis (Princeton University Press)
  • Jennifer Van Horn, The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century America (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)
  • Douglas L. Winiarski, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England (University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture)
The winner of the 2018 prize will be announced, and all finalists recognized, at a black-tie gala on May 23, 2018 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
More information about the George Washington Prize is available at
MAX EDELSON is associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and the author of Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina (Harvard University Press). He was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Implementation Grant to develop MapScholar, a dynamic visualization tool for historic maps.
KEVIN J. HAYES, Professor Emeritus at the University of Central Oklahoma, is the author of several books including The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson (Oxford University Press) and A Journey through American Literature (Oxford University Press). He is the recipient of the Virginia Library History Award presented by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Center for the Book.
ERIC HINDERAKER is professor of history at the University of Utah and author of The Two Hendricks: Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery, which won the Dixon Ryan Fox Prize by the New York State Historical Society and the Herbert H. Lehman Prize by the New York Academy of History.
JON KUKLA is the author of Mr. Jefferson’s Women and A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America, as well as many scholarly articles and reviews. He has served as the executive director of the Historic New Orleans Collection and of Red Hill-The Patrick Henry National Memorial in Charlotte County, Virginia.
JAMES E. LEWIS, JR., is professor of history at Kalamazoo College. His books include The Louisiana Purchase: Jefferson’s Noble Bargain? and John Quincy Adams: Policymaker for the Union.
JENNIFER VAN HORN is assistant professor of art history and history at the University of Delaware and specializes in early American visual and material culture. 
DOUGLAS L. WINIARSKI is an associate professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at the University of Richmond, where he teaches a wide range of courses on the history of religion in early America.


About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994 by visionaries and lifelong proponents of American History education Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the leading American history nonprofit organization dedicated to K-12 education. With a focus on primary sources, the Gilder Lehrman Institute illuminates the stories, people and moments that inspire students of all ages and backgrounds to learn and understand more about history. Through a diverse portfolio of education programs, including the acclaimed Hamilton Education Program, the Gilder Lehrman Institute provides opportunities for nearly two million students, 30,000 teachers and 16,000 schools worldwide. Learn more at 
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Since 1860, more than 85 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.  In 2013, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association opened the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which safeguards original books and manuscripts and serves as a center for research, scholarship, and leadership development. 
Washington College was founded in 1782, 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 college’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the George Washington Prize, explores the American experience in all its diversity and complexity, seeks creative approaches to illuminating the past, and inspires thoughtful conversation informed by history. 
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