Books exploring Lincoln as commander-in-chief win 2009 Lincoln Prize

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Two books that re-define Abraham Lincoln's command of the largest army and navy of the 19th century will share the 2009 Lincoln Prize, which is endowed by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman and administered by Gettysburg College.

The winners are James McPherson for Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief and Craig Symonds for Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War. Each author will receive $25,000 and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens life-size bust, "Lincoln the Man." McPherson, who won the prize in 1998, is the George Henry Davis Professor of American History Emeritus at Princeton University. Symonds, who was a finalist in 1993, is Professor of American History Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy. A formal ceremony will take place April 7 in New York City. The Lincoln Prize is one of the nation's most generous awards in the field of American history.

"Lincoln was not only the first modern commander-in-chief, he moreover grasped strategy and tactics with an intuitive understanding that even his trained officers sometimes lacked," said Gilder and Lehrman in announcing the prize on Lincoln's 200th birthday, Feb. 12. "During a presidency entirely circumscribed by war, he embraced new technologies, created a modern chain of command, took prescient advantage of improved means of communication and transportation, made sure to visit troops and the wounded personally to boost morale, advocated joint operations between land and sea forces, and once, briefly, even directed an expedition himself."

"This has been a remarkable year for Lincoln research and publication, and it is important to acknowledge that the field has been enormously enriched not only by the titles we have singled out this year, but by a virtual shelf of publications that have helped to excite, engage, and inform the public about Abraham Lincoln on the eve of his milestone two hundredth birthday, making enormous and permanent contributions to our understanding of the greatest president's life and times," said Gabor Boritt, who served as chair of the Lincoln Prize for two decades but will retire from his post this year. Lehrman will succeed him.

Honorable mention will go to three other books selected from the record-breaking 172 submissions: Jacqueline Jones, Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War; Fred Kaplan, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer; and William Lee Miller, President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman.

McPherson earned his first Lincoln Prize in 1998 for For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. A member of the Princeton faculty for more than 40 years, McPherson is the author of Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, and volumes on Gettysburg, Antietam and black freedom, as well as the brief biography, Abraham Lincoln.

Symonds has authored or edited 17 books on the Civil War era, including widely acclaimed biographies of General Joseph E. Johnston, Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanan and the "Stonewall of the West" Patrick Cleburne. His previous book, Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History, won the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Prize for Naval History. As a faculty member, Symonds became the first person to win both the Naval Academy's Excellence in Teaching Award and Excellence in Research Award.

Gilder, Lehrman and Boritt, who is Gettysburg College's Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and director of its Civil War Institute, established the Lincoln Prize in 1990. The Gilder Lehrman Institute has amassed one of the nation's greatest private collections of American historical documents and devotes itself to education by supporting magnet schools, teacher education, curriculum development, exhibitions and publications.

The three-member Lincoln Prize jury was comprised of Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University; Lucas Morel, Garwood Visiting Fellow at Princeton University; and Carol Bundy, an author of film and art publications, whose first book traced the life of her great-great-great uncle Charles Russell Lowell.

Past Lincoln Prize winners include Ken Burns in 1991 for his documentary, "The Civil War," Allen Guelzo for his books, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President in 2000 and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America in 2005 and Doris Kearns Goodwin in 2006 for her book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Last year's winners were Elizabeth Brown Pryor for Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through his Private Letters and James Oakes for The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with approximately 2,600 students. It is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Kendra Martin, director of media relations

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Thu, 12 Feb 2009

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