Photo: Dan Addison U VA University Communications

Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, chair of New-York Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, and Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical, announced that Alan Taylor will be honored with New-York Historical’s annual Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History for American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850 (W.W. Norton & Company, 2021). The award recognizes the best book of the year in the field of American history or biography. Alan Taylor will receive a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal, and the title of American Historian Laureate, which will be presented at New-York Historical’s annual Chairman’s Council Weekend with History on April 8. 

“Alan Taylor’s American Republics richly illustrates how the difficulties surrounding our nation’s birth were as complicated and vexing as the issues that challenge and divide us today,” said Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, chair of New-York Historical’s Board of Trustees. “Deeply-researched and utterly frank in its analysis of our American origins, the book helps us to make sense of our complicated history, so that we can be better informed as we strive for a more progressive society—a perfect selection for New-York Historical’s Barbara and David Zalaznick American History Book Prize in 2022.”

“From years of research at the New-York Historical Society, through hard times and better ones, I have immensely benefited from its rich collections and grown fond of the institution,” said Alan Taylor. “So I am especially honored to receive New-York Historical’s Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History—and to join the distinguished company of previous recipients.” 

In American Republics, Taylor upends the traditional story of a young nation confidently marching to its continent-spanning destiny. The newly constituted United States actually emerged as a fragile, internally divided union of states contending still with European empires and other independent republics on the North American continent. At the end of the period the United States, its conquered territory reaching the Pacific, remained internally divided, with sectional animosities over slavery growing more intense. Taylor’s history of this tumultuous period offers indelible miniatures of key characters from Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Margaret Fuller and illuminates the continuities between our own social and political divisions and the events of this formative period.

Alan Taylor has twice won the Pulitzer Prize in History, most recently for The Internal Enemy, also a National Book Award finalist. He is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History at University of Virginia, and lives in Charlottesville.

American Republics was selected by a prize committee comprising historians and New-York Historical leadership from a field of more than 150 submissions. Previous winners of the book prize in American History include Tracy Campbell for The Year of Peril: America in 1942; Rick Atkinson for The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777; Benn Steil for The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War; John A. Farrell for Richard Nixon: The Life; Jane Kamensky for Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley; Eric Foner for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad; Jill Lepore forThe Secret History of Wonder Woman; Doris Kearns Goodwin forTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln; David Nasaw for Andrew Carnegie; Daniel Walker Howe forWhat Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848; Drew Gilpin Faust forThis Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War; Gordon S. Wood forEmpire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815; Ron Chernow for George Washington: A Life; John Lewis Gaddis forGeorge F. Kennan: An American Life; Robert Caro for Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power; and Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy forThe Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire.

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 ourFor 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.