Andrew Lambert Wins the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History

Winner of the Sixth Annual Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History Announced 
Award Program on Monday, October 28, 2019, at the New-York Historical Society

New York, NY, September 19, 2019 – The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced today that Andrew Lambert has been awarded the sixth annual Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History for Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the Conflict That Made the Modern World (Yale). 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 the shortlisted authors will take place on Monday, October 28, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. at the New-York Historical Society.

“The Gilder Lehrman Prize judges unanimously decided to give the $50,000 award to Andrew Lambert because his Seapower States superbly fulfilled all our criteria of being historically ground-breaking, excellently researched, extremely well-written and accessible to the general reader. The other three shortlisted books were all very fine works of military history, but Lambert’s we judged the best,” said Professor Andrew Roberts, chair of the judging committee. 

“Students of every period of history, from ancient Athens and Carthage through modern Europe and the British Empire will be fascinated and enlightened by this learned and deeply original book. Andrew Lambert has given us a new perspective on 3,000 years of history connected by the idea of seapower, and it will stand for decades,” observed James Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

“It is a great honor to be awarded the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History for 2018,” said Professor Lambert. “The Institute has a proud and progressive tradition in the furtherance of education and the inclusion of ever wider audiences in the critical process of understanding how important the past is to shaping the present. At another level I am particularly proud that Seapower States is the first work of naval history to be recognised, joining a highly distinguished list of past winners, and emphasising the fact that the word military covers all aspects of war, not just the operations of armies. I hope that the Prize will raise the profile of naval history.”

According to Professor Andrew Roberts, Craig Symonds, the Distinguished Visiting Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, will be joining the judging panel for next year’s deliberations.

Professor Lambert, who traces his interest in seapower nations to his honeymoon in Venice thirty years ago, reflects that “seapower was more than a strategic tool that could be wielded by any state with a coast and enough money; it was first and foremost a culture, an identity shared across time by a small group of great powers that used the sea to define and defend themselves against their conteintental peers. These Seapower States, Athens, Carthage, Venice, the Dutch Republic, and Great Britain, were acutely conscious of their precursors. They made secular temples of their naval bases, deified their naval heroes, created marine art, and built sea empires of connected ports and bases, in contrast to the terrestrial empires of their landed peers. They are the source of much that we in the progressive democratic west take for granted, while those values still meet resistance in authoritarian continental empires.”

Andrew Lambert is the Laughton Professor of Naval History in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and also director of the Laughton Naval Unit housed in the department. His work focuses on the naval and strategic history of the British Empire between the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War, and the early development of naval historical writing, addressing a range of issues, including technology, policy-making, regional security, deterrence, historiography, crisis-management, and conflict. He received the 2014 Anderson Medal for The Challenge: Britain against America in the Naval War of 1812. He has lectured around the world, from Australia and Canada to Finland, Denmark, and Russia. His other books include Crusoe’s Island: A Rich and Curious History of Pirates, Castaways and Madness (Faber & Faber), and The Crimean War: British Grand Strategy against Russia, 1853-56 (Ashgate Publishing Ltd).

Eighty-one books were submitted for consideration by publishers in the United States and the United Kingdom for the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History at the New-York Historical Society. The other finalists for this year’s prize are James M. Scott for Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila (Norton), Geoffrey Wawro for Sons of Freedom: The Forgotten American Soldiers Who Defeated Germany in World War I (Basic), and Steven Gunn for The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII (Oxford).

The judging panel for the prize was composed of Andrew Roberts, visiting professor at the War Studies Department of King’s College London, committee chair; Flora Fraser, author, chair of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography and founder of the Elizabeth Longford Grants for Historical Biography; Allen C. Guelzo, author, Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and director of the Civil War Era Studies Program at Gettysburg College; and Ian Beckett, author, chairman of the Council of the Army Records Society, secretary to the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust, and professor of military history at the University of Kent.

The inaugural prize for 2013 was awarded to Allen Guelzo for Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Knopf). Other recipients include Alexander Watson for Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I (Basic), David Preston for Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution (Oxford), Peter Cozzens for The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West, and Cathal Nolan for The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost (Oxford).  

The intent of the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History at 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 the steps to war, 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 Lewis E. Lehrman, co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, author, and champion of studies in American political and military history. 


Now celebrating its twenty-fifth year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources, at the core of which is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history, with more than 70,000 primary source documents.


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.


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