Bruce Henderson Wins the Tenth Annual Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize
Award Program to Take Place Monday, December 4, 2023
New York, NY, October 23, 2023 – The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced today that Bruce Henderson has been awarded the tenth annual Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize for Bridge to the Sun: The Secret Role of the Japanese Americans Who Fought in the Pacific in World War II (Knopf). The $50,000 prize is bestowed in recognition of the best English language book published in 2022 in the field of American military history, distinguished by its scholarship, its contribution to the literature, and its appeal to the broadest possible general reading public. This is the first year in which the focus of the prize is on American rather than global military history, in keeping with the mission of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history. An event celebrating the winner and the shortlisted authors will take place on Monday, December 4, hosted by the New-York Historical Society, the first museum in New York City. Tickets to attend this free program—in person or via livestream—are available online.
Finalists for this year’s prize were chosen by a three-member jury chaired by Craig L. Symonds, Professor Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy and distinguished historian of the American Civil War, the Second World War, and naval history. He was joined by Civil War scholar Lorien Foote, who is the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor of History at Texas A&M University, and Colonel (Retired) Kevin J. Weddle, Professor of Military Theory and Strategy and the Elihu Root Chair of Military Studies at the United States Army War College.
The final choice was made by the prize board: James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; Robert C. Daum; Griff Norquist; Lieutenant General (Retired) Michelle D. Johnson; and Curt Viebranz.
In his report to the prize board, jury chair Craig L. Symonds wrote, “No one . . . has looked into the . . . complex issue of Japanese-Americans who fought against the country of their parents or grandparents, and for many of them the country where they attended school. It is a story with many facets and one that is difficult to tell since the author has to maintain a dozen story lines while providing sufficient context for their actions. Yet, Mr. Henderson brings it off magnificently.”
“It is an honor to receive the coveted Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize, and I am humbled and most grateful to the jury members, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the New-York Historical Society,” said Bruce Henderson.
He continued, “I set out to write the little-known history of the several thousand US Army Japanese American soldiers who fought in the Pacific during World War II. Their service as translators, interpreters and interrogators was among the best-kept secrets of the war with Japan. As Americans of Japanese descent, they were, in effect, fighting two wars simultaneously. One, overseas against their ancestral homeland, and the other, against racial prejudice at home, where their families, facing suspicion and racial hatred, were rounded up and held in government internment camps. The story of the courage and patriotism of these Nisei soldiers comes, I believe, at a pivotal time in our history, as too often people are pre-judged based on race and ethnicity.”
Henderson is the author of more than twenty nonfiction books, including Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the US Army to Fight Hitler and True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole. He is the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell (with Vincent Bugliosi). Henderson is also an award-winning journalist who has taught reporting and writing at USC School of Journalism and Stanford University and has worked as an investigative reporter for several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. He attended college on the G.I. Bill and served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War.
The purpose of the Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize 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.
Ninety-eight books were submitted for consideration by publishers in the United States and the United Kingdom for the tenth annual Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize. There were two other finalists for this year’s prize: Frederick C. Leiner for Prisoners of the Bashaw: The Nineteen-Month Captivity of American Sailors in Tripoli, 1803–1805 (Westholme Publishing) and Nicholas Reynolds for Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence (Mariner Books).
The inaugural prize for 2013 was awarded to Allen Guelzo for Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Knopf). Other recipients include Peter Cozzens for The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (Knopf), Cathal Nolan for The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost (Oxford), Andrew Lambert for Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the Conflict That Made the Modern World (Yale), John C. McManus for Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941–1943 (Dutton Caliber), and most recently, Kevin J. Weddle for The Compleat Victory: Saratoga and the American Revolution (Oxford University Press).
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.
About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Lewis E. Lehrman and the late Richard Gilder, 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 85,000 primary source documents.
About the New-York Historical Society
Experience 400 years of history through groundbreaking exhibitions, immersive films, and thought-provoking conversations among renowned historians and public figures at the New-York Historical Society, New York’s first museum. A great destination for history since 1804, the Museum and the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library convey the stories of the city and nation’s diverse populations, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we came to be. Ever-rising to the challenge of bringing little or unknown histories to light, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help forge the future by documenting the past join New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Center for Women’s History. Digital exhibitions, apps, and our For the Ages podcast make it possible for visitors everywhere to dive more deeply into history. Connect with us at nyhistory.org or at @nyhistory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.
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