GUGGENHEIM-LEHRMAN PRIZE IN MILITARY HISTORY AWARDED
TO DAVID PRESTON
Winner of the Third Annual Prize Announced March 21
at the New-York Historical Society
New York, NY, March 22, 2016 – The New-York Historical Society and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation announced today that David Preston has been awarded the third annual Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History for his book, Braddock’s Defeat, The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution. The $50,000 prize is bestowed annually in recognition of the best book in the field of military history published in English during the previous calendar year. A program celebrating the winner and shortlisted authors took place on Monday, March 21, at the New-York Historical Society.
“The success of the Prize over the last two years has tautened the judges’ antennae for extraordinary history writing,” said Professor Andrew Roberts, chairman of the judging committee. “Merely very, very good is not good enough. Braddock’s Defeat, The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution is exemplary.”
“Our purpose in establishing this annual prize is to restore the serious pursuit of military history in research, scholarship, and writing—in recent times ignored by the American academic community,” said Josiah Bunting III, President of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. “The historical illiteracy of the rising generations of college students current and recent is profoundly dangerous to their growth and participation as responsible citizens.”
On July 9, 1755, British regulars and American colonial troops under the command of General Edward Braddock, commander in chief of the British Army in North America, were attacked by French and Native American forces shortly after crossing the Monongahela River. Within hours, a powerful British army was routed, its commander mortally wounded, and two-thirds of its forces suffered casualties in one the worst disasters in military history. Preston’s work challenges the stale portrait of an arrogant European officer who refused to adapt to military and political conditions in the New World and is the first to show fully how the French and Indian coalition achieved victory through effective diplomacy, tactics, and leadership.
The inaugural 2013 Prize was awarded to Allen Guelzo for his bestselling book, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Knopf). The 2014 Prize was awarded to Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I by Alexander Watson (Basic Books).
David L. Preston is an award-winning historian of early America with a special interest in war and peace among the French, British, and Indian peoples of the eighteenth century. He is currently the Westvaco Professor of National Security Studies at The Citadel in South Carolina, where he teaches cadets and officer candidates about U.S. military history and early American history.
Over 100 books were submitted for consideration by publishers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom for the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History. The other finalists for the 2015 Prize were First Over There—The Attack on Cantigny, America’s First Battle of World War I by Matthew J. Davenport (St Martin’s Press); The German War—A Nation Under Arms, 1939 –1945 by Nicholas Stargardt (Basic Books); and Custer’s Trials—A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T. J. Stiles (Alfred A. Knopf).
The judging panel for the prize was composed of Andrew Roberts, Ph.D., Visiting Professor at the War Studies Department of King’s College London, Committee Chair; Charles F. Brower IV, Ph.D., Brigadier General, USA Retd., Henry King Burgwyn Professor of Military History, Virginia Military Institute; Josiah Bunting III, President of the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation, Recording Secretary to the Committee; Flora Fraser, author, Chair of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, and founder of the Elizabeth Longford Grants for Historical Biography; W. Patrick Lang, former head of Middle East, South Asian, and Counter-Terrorist affairs in the Defense Intelligence Agency; and Ralph Peters, Lt. Col., USA Retd., author and Fox News Strategic Analyst.
The intent of the Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, which is jointly administered by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and the New-York Historical Society, is to draw public attention to military history not only as an important staple of education in the areas of international relations, diplomacy, and conflict studies, but also as a subject in which any educated citizen should be interested. The study of steps to war, the conduct of military campaigns, and diplomatic responses to war can play an essential role in the quest for a more peaceable future.
Funding for the prize is provided by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, established in 1929 to study the predisposing qualities that lead humankind to commit acts of violence, domination, and aggression; and Lewis E. Lehrman, co-founder of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, author, and champion of studies in American political and military history.
About the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation sponsors scholarly research on problems of violence, aggression, and dominance. The foundation provides both research grants to established scholars and dissertation fellowships to graduate students during the dissertation-writing year.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.