Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, has announced that Drew Faust, Harvard’s president and Lincoln Professor of History, will receive the society’s fourth annual American History Book Prize for “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), a book that examines how death on an unprecedented scale during the Civil War changed the life of the nation.
Faust will be given the title of American Historian Laureate on April 3 at a ceremony held during the “Weekend With History” event of the Historical Society’s chairman’s council.
“More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. An equivalent proportion of today’s population would be 6 million. ‘This Republic of Suffering’ is a deeply moving — and eye-opening — study of the Civil War and the basic, shared reality of death,” said Mirrer.
In its citation, the five-member jury for the American History Book Prize stated, “‘This Republic of Suffering’ is an important work of history, one that illuminates brilliantly a difficult topic of universal interest. Faust, a highly respected scholar, has brought a myriad of disparate facts and isolated quotations together into a coherent, beautiful, and finally moving narrative that presents a fresh perspective on a deeply serious topic, one that is as accessible to the general reader as it is to the professional historian.”
The purpose of the New-York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize is to encourage the general public to read works on American history. The prize is awarded to a nonfiction book on American history or biography that is distinguished by its scholarship, its literary style, and its appeal to both a general and an academic audience.
“This Republic of Suffering” was selected from a field of 175 submissions by a Prize Committee composed of historians and New-York Historical Society leadership.