Tom Watson Brown Book Award

The Society of Civil War Historians gives an annual Tom Watson Brown Book Award for the best book published on the causes, conduct, and effects, broadly defined, of the Civil War. This includes, but is not exclusive to, monographs, synthetic works presenting original interpretations, and biographies. Works of fiction, poetry, anthologies, and textbooks are not considered. Jurors consider nominated works’ scholarly and literary merit as well as the extent to which they make original contributions to our understanding of the period.

The prize is presented at the SCWH banquet at the Southern Historical Association annual meeting, where the winner delivers a formal address that will be published in a subsequent issue of the Journal of the Civil War Era.

2018 Winner of the Tom Watson Brown Book Award:

The Society of Civil War Historians and the Watson–Brown Foundation are proud to announce that Andrew Lang is the recipient of the Tom Watson Brown Book Award. Dr. Lang, Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi State University, earned the award for In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America, which was published in 2017 by the Louisiana State University Press. The $50,000 award is funded by the Watson-Brown Foundation in honor of the broadcaster, philanthropist, and Civil War enthusiast Tom Watson Brown. The prize committee praised the book as “one of the very best examples of a social-cultural history of the army to be done for the Civil War,” one that “makes good use of cultural, social, and political history, as well as military theory.” In the Wake of War examines American military occupations from the U.S.-Mexican War through the Civil War and Reconstruction from the perspective of the occupying troops. It argues that the volunteers of the Civil War era typically perceived occupation duty as antithetical to their republican values as citizen-soldiers. Lang painstakingly shows how such duty forced soldiers to confront a host of critical problems in this period, such as the relationship between citizen and government, the complications of race and emancipation in a white democracy, and the intricate negotiation of gender roles in occupied communities, to name just a few. The Society of Civil War Historians and the Watson-Brown Foundation will present the Tom Watson Brown Book Prize to Dr. Lang at the Southern Historical Association’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama in November.

The Watson Brown Book Award jury consisted of Orville Vernon Burton, the Judge Matthew J. Perry, Jr.  Distinguished Chair of History and Director of the Clemson CyberInstitute, Clemson University; Nicole Etcheson, Alexander M. Bracken Professor of History, Ball State University; Earl J. Hess, Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History, Lincoln Memorial University; and Tad Brown, President of the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc.

2019 Nomination Information:

The Society of Civil War Historians solicits nominations for the Tom Watson Brown Book Award for books published in 2018. Publishers are asked to send books, along with a cover letter nominating the work for the Tom Watson Brown Award, directly to the four prize jurors no later than January 31, 2019. Only books published in 2018 will be considered. The prize committee for the 2019 Watson Brown Award will be selected this fall. Please refer back to this page for instructions on sending nominated books with cover letters to the prize committee.

All genres of scholarship on the causes, conduct, and effects, broadly defined, of the Civil War are eligible. This includes, but is not exclusive to, monographs, synthetic works presenting original interpretations, and biographies. Works of fiction, poetry, and textbooks will not be considered. Jurors will consider nominated works’ scholarly and literary merit as well as the extent to which they make original contributions to our understanding of the period.

The winner will be announced by August 1, 2019. The prize will be presented at the SCWH banquet at the Southern Historical Association annual meeting, where the winner will deliver a formal address that will be published in a subsequent issue of the Journal of the Civil War Era.

Previous Tom Watson Brown Book Award Winners:

2017: Christopher Phillips, John and Dorothy Hermanies Professor of American History and University Distinguished Research Professor in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, University of Cincinnati, for The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border (Oxford University Press, 2016)

2016: Earl J. Hess, Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History, Lincoln Memorial University, for Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness.  (Louisiana State University Press, 2015)

2015: Shauna Devine, Professor, Schulich School of Medicine and Department of History, Western University, for Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science. (The University of North Carolina Press, 2014)

2014: Ari Kelman, Chancellor’s Leadership Professor of History, University of California, Davis, for A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013).

2013John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duff Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Professor of History in the Yale History Department, for Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Simon & Schuster, 2012).

2012Gary W. Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia, for The Union War (Harvard University Press, 2011).

2011Mark W. Geiger, a 2011-12 Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University Library of Congress and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, for Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861-1865 (Yale University Press, 2010).

2010Daniel E. Sutherland, Distinguished Professor of History, University of Arkansas, for A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War  (University of North Carolina, 2009).

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