John C. McManus Wins the Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize

Winner of the Seventh Annual Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History Announced

Award Program Available Online Thursday, November 5, 2020

New York, NY, September 30, 2020 – The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced today that John C. McManus has been awarded the seventh annual Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History for Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943 (Dutton-Penguin). 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 be recorded and released on Thursday, November 5.

“This year the Gilder Lehrman Institute Military History Prize judges were unanimous in awarding the $50,000 prize to John McManus’s splendid Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-43,” said Professor Andrew Roberts, chair of the judging committee. “We were hugely impressed with all the six books on our shortlist, but McManus’s work stood out, and it more than satisfied each of our four key criteria, which are that it must be historically ground-breaking, excellently researched, extremely well written, and accessible to the general reader.”

“McManus’s Fire and Fortitude is military history at its best, vividly narrated, full of human drama and heroism, restoring to view a painful but important dimension of the American fight in the Pacific in World War II. Every student of history will find it riveting,” observed James Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this year’s Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History,” stated John C. McManus. “As a professional military historian, I have long revered this award for its leading role in the recognition of cutting edge work in the field. I want to express my sincere thanks to the jurors, the Gilder Lehrman Institute, and the New-York Historical Society.”

McManus continued, “In writing Fire and Fortitude, my intention was to broaden our historical perspective and enhance our understanding of the Pacific/Asia theater in World War II, and my hope is that this remarkable literary recognition will help further that objective.”

John C. McManus is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of US military history at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T). He is in frequent demand as a speaker and expert commentator, appearing on, Fox News, C-Span, the Military Channel, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Netflix, the Smithsonian Network, the History Channel, and PBS, among others. He also served as historical advisor for the bestselling book and documentary Salinger, the latter of which appeared nationwide in theaters and on PBS’s American Masters series. During the 2018-2019 academic year, he was in residence at the US Naval Academy as the Leo A. Shifrin Chair of Naval and Military History, a distinguished visiting professorship. His most recent books include Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II through Iraq (NAL/Penguin), named by the US Army’s Chief of Staff to the Army’s recommended professional reading list; September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far (Dutton-Penguin); The Dead and Those About to Die, D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach; and Hell Before Their Very Eyes: American Soldiers Liberate Concentration Camps in Germany, April 1945 (Johns Hopkins).

Seventy-six 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 Matthew Lockwood for To Begin the World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe (Yale), Alexander Watson for The Fortress: The Siege of Przemysl and the Making of Europe’s Bloodlands (Basic), Christian Keller for The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy (Pegasus), Clay Risen for The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century (Simon & Schuster), and Rick Atkinson for The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (Henry Holt).

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, senior research scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and director of the James Madison Program’s Initiative in Politics and Statesmanship; 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; and Craig Symonds, the Distinguished Visiting Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the US Naval War College.

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, 1914-1918 (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, Cathal Nolan for The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost (Oxford), and Andrew Lambert for Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the Conflict That Made the Modern World (Yale).

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.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

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 75,000 primary source documents.

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.


The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
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New-York Historical Society
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