Visitors ages 12 and older are required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Learn more >


$50,000 Prize and Title of American Historian Laureate to Be Presented
at Weekend with History Friday, April 12, 2019

New York, NY, March 11, 2019—Pam Schafler, chair of New-York Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, and Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical, announced today that Benn Steil will be honored with New-York Historical’s annual Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History for The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War (Simon & Schuster, 2018). The award recognizes the best book of the year in the field of American history or biography. Benn Steil will receive a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal, and the title of American Historian Laureate, on April 12, 2019. The ceremony kicks off New-York Historical’s 14th annual Chairman’s Council Weekend with History, a two-day event, featuring an array of speakers discussing important historical events that have made an impact on New York City and the nation.

The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War is a deeply researched and artfully crafted book, full of discoveries and insights, that presents the story of the Marshall Plan in the broader context of the emerging Cold War and international post-war politics,” said Pam Schafler, chair of New-York Historical’s Board of Trustees. “Benn’s book is timely and compelling, especially as Americans today debate the question of what it means to act in the national interest. We are thrilled to award Benn with this prize and the title of American Historian Laureate for his remarkable work.”

“It is ebbing from the national consciousness just what it was that made America great,” said Benn Steil. “The creation, implementation, and legacy of the Marshall Plan define its essence. I am thrilled to have my history of the initiative honored by such a prestigious prize.”

Selected by a prize committee comprising historians and New-York Historical leadership from a field of 139 submissions, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War reveals the gripping history behind the Marshall Plan—told with perception and resonance for today.

In the wake of World War II, with Britain’s empire collapsing and Stalin’s on the rise, U.S. officials under new Secretary of State George C. Marshall set out to reconstruct Western Europe as a bulwark against communist authoritarianism. Their massive, costly, and ambitious undertaking would confront Europeans and Americans alike with a vision at odds with their history and self-conceptions. In the process, they would drive the creation of NATO, the European Union, and a Western identity that continues to shape world events. Focusing on the critical years 1947 to 1949, Benn Steil’s account brings to life the seminal episodes marking the collapse of postwar U.S.-Soviet relations—the Prague coup, the Berlin blockade, and the division of Germany—revealing Stalin’s determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe. The Marshall Plan provides critical context into understanding today’s international landscape.

Benn Steil is senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. His previous book, the prize-winning Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, was called “a triumph of economic and diplomatic history” by the Financial Times, “a superb history” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the gold standard on its subject” by the New York Times. He lives in New York with his wife and two boys.

Previous winners of the book prize in American History include John A. Farrell for Richard Nixon: The Life; Jane Kamensky for Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley; Eric Foner for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad; Jill Lepore for The Secret History of Wonder Woman; Doris Kearns Goodwin for Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; David Nasaw for Andrew Carnegie; Daniel Walker Howe for What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848; Drew Gilpin Faust for This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War; Gordon S. Wood for Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815; Ron Chernow for George Washington: A Life; John Lewis Gaddis for George F. Kennan: An American Life; Robert Caro for Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power; and Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy for The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire.

Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, 2019

Throughout this special weekend, Chairman’s Council members have the opportunity to hear from the book prize winner, and eminent scholars and experts who provide insightful perspectives on a host of topics. The program concludes with the Leslie and Alan Shuch Weekend with History Keynote Lecture by President of the University of Chicago Robert Zimmer and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who will discuss free speech and campus culture.

The Chairman’s Council comprises New-York Historical’s most committed supporters who are partners in its mission to engage a broad range of people in American history through groundbreaking exhibitions, thought-provoking programs, and educational activities that bring history to life. Individuals may be invited to join the Chairman’s Council by New-York Historical Trustees and senior staff and by existing members of the Council. For more information on Weekend with History or the Chairman’s Council, please contact Sarah Celentano at 212-485-9280 / sarah.celentano@nyhistory.org.

2019 Participating Speakers
Alan Balicki
Ric Burns
Roger Cohen
Marshall Curry
John A. Farrell
Philip H. Gordon
Victoria Johnson
David M. Kennedy
Jane Manners
Michael T. Ryan
Bret Stephens
Andrew H. Tisch
Ann Rubenstein Tisch
Julian Zelizer
Robert Zimmer

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent 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. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.

Press Contacts
Ines Aslan                                                               Marybeth Ihle
New-York Historical Society                             New-York Historical Society
(212) 485-9263                                                       (212) 873-3400 ext 326
Ines.aslan@nyhistory.org            Marybeth.ihle@nyhistory.org

Monday, March 11, 2019
Creative: Tronvig Group