March 14, 2017 — In today’s issue of The New York Times, reporter Jennifer Schuessler writes:
Jane Kamensky, a professor at Harvard University, will take on the unofficial title “American historian laureate” in April when the New-York Historical Society presents her with its annual book prize in American history, for “A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley.”
The book, published by W. W. Norton, used Copley — who is celebrated for his portraits of Paul Revere and other Revolutionary War-era patriots, despite the fact that he was a loyalist who spent the war years in London — as a window onto the complexities of Revolution-era America. Virginia DeJohn Anderson, writing in The New York Times Book Review in December, praised the book’s vivid depiction of a man who “remained conflicted to the end.”
The prize, which was recently renamed in honor of the philanthropists Barbara and David Zalaznick, carries a $50,000 cash award and an engraved medal, as well the unofficial laureate title. (The historical society is a private organization.) Past winners include Eric Foner, Drew Gilpin Faust, Gordon S. Wood and Jill Lepore.