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John Fea’s “Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?” Nominated for George Washington Book Prize

{image_1} Forgive me if I am kvelling today like a proud mama. John Fea's WJK book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? has been selected as one of this year's three finalists for the George Washington book prize in American history. As his editor, I am ridiculously proud.

The George Washington Prize was founded in the last decade to honor the best books in American history dealing with the founding period (roughly from 1760 to 1820). Every year there are three nominees, and one of them takes home a $50,000 prize when the winner is announced at Mount Vernon in June. Yowza.

Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?  was published a year ago this week to great critical praise from historians, who have appreciated its balanced approach. The book has no axe to grind in the ongoing debates about the religious hopes of America's founders.

It has sold well too, hitting that sweet spot that publishers love -- a book that is accessible enough for undergraduate course adoption or lay group study, but also substantive enough that it can hold its own against the best work by other historians of America's revolutionary and republican periods.

All -- and I mean all -- of the past nominees have been books from major trade houses (Penguin, Random House, Viking, Knopf, Simon & Schuster, Holt, etc.) or the largest university presses (Oxford, Harvard). Westminster John Knox is the smallest press to ever have a book nominated, and the only religious press. We are so honored to have an author in this august company. Here is some info about the award and its very prestigious past winners:

Created in 2005, the George Washington Book Prize was presented that year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton. Other winners are Stacy Schiff (2006) for A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, Charles Rappleye (2007) for Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, Marcus Rediker (2008) for The Slave Ship: A Human History, and Annette Gordon-Reed (2009) for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which also won the Pulitzer Prize for History, the National Book Award and the Frederick Douglass Prize. In 2010, the Prize was awarded to Richard Beeman for Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution. The George Washington Book Prize recognizes the year's best books on the nation's founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history.

Can I just say that I am absolutely thrilled? The book is outstanding and the author is exactly the kind of person you want nice things to happen to more often in life. Congratulations to John Fea! My thanks to him as well for bringing this wonderful project to WJK. 

Tags: george washington book prize in american history, john fea, marcus rediker, messiah college, plain, honest men, stacy schiff, the hemingses of monticello, the way of improvement leads home, was america founded as a christian nation, westminster john knox press

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