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Prize Includes $50,000 and Title of American Historian Laureate

New York, NY, March 17, 2020—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 Rick Atkinson will be honored with New-York Historical’s annual Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History for The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (Henry Holt and Company, 2019). The award recognizes the best book of the year in the field of American history or biography. Rick Atkinson will receive a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal, and the title of American Historian Laureate.

 “‘The British are coming’ is a phrase we all know, but through Rick’s remarkable research and elegant prose, the refrain takes on new meaning,” said Pam Schafler, chair of New-York Historical’s Board of Trustees. “Our committee found his book riveting, illuminating, and wonderfully provocative, breathing new life into American Revolution scholarship. It is with great pleasure that we bestow the title of American Historian Laureate on Rick for his achievement with this work.”

“I’m deeply grateful for this honor, not only because it comes from an institution that I revere but also because it puts me in such fine company with former recipients,” said Rick Atkinson. “I’ve spent a professional lifetime writing about American wars to understand how and why they were fought, and in hopes of conveying to readers that every one of them was fundamentally tragic.”  

Selected by a prize committee comprising historians and New-York Historical leadership from a field of more than 150 submissions, The British Are Coming recounts the first 21 months of America’s violent war for independence. From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter of 1776-1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world’s most formidable fighting force. It is a saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves to be the wiliest of diplomats; George Washington, the commander in chief who learns the difficult art of leadership when the war seems all but lost. The story is also told from the British perspective, making the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels all the more compelling.

Rick Atkinson is a military historian and author of The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, the first volume in the Revolution Trilogy. He is also author of the Liberation Trilogy about the World War II in the Mediterranean and Western Europe. The first volume of that series, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, received the Pulitzer Prize for history and was acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal as “the best World War II battle narrative since Cornelius Ryan’s classics, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far.” Born in Munich, Germany, Atkinson is the son of a U.S. Army officer and grew up on military posts. He holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Chicago. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Previous winners of the book prize in American History include Benn Steil for The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War; 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.

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

The New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024. Information: (212) 873-3400. Website: nyhistory.org. Follow the museum on social media at @nyhistory on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Tumblr.

Press Contacts
Ines Aslan                                                               Marybeth Ihle
New-York Historical Society                             New-York Historical Society
Ines.aslan@nyhistory.org                                Marybeth.ihle@nyhistory.org



Tuesday, March 17, 2020
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