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March 26, 2008

Columbia Announces 2008 Bancroft Prize Winners

The cover of Charles Postel's The Populist Vision
Image courtesy
of Oxford University Press

The authors of three acclaimed books—one a comprehensive study of the tobacco industry, one a reassessment of the Populist movement, and a study of the role of frontier violence in 18th-century America—will be awarded the Bancroft Prize for 2008, Columbia University announced.

The winners are Allan M. Brandt, for The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America (Basic Books); Charles Postel, for The Populist Vision (Oxford University Press); and Peter Silver, for Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America (W. W. Norton & Company).

One of the most coveted honors in the field of history, the Bancroft Prize is awarded annually by the trustees of Columbia University to the authors of books of exceptional merit in the fields of American history, biography and diplomacy. The 2008 awards are for books published in 2007.

The cover of Peter Silver's Our Savage Neighbors
Image courtesy
of W.W. Norton

Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkley will present the awards to the recipients at a formal dinner next month at the University's Low Memorial Library, hosted by the department of history and the University Libraries.

The Bancroft Prize, which includes an award of $10,000 to each author, is administered by James Neal, Columbia's vice president for information services and University librarian.

More than 200 books were nominated for consideration by the Bancroft jury this year, said Neal. “Once again, we were very impressed by the number of excellent submissions covering a broad range of themes, and are proud to honor this year's winners. The Bancroft prize is a celebration and affirmation of historical scholarship, the library, the book, the academic press and the reportedly threatened scholarly monograph.”

The cover of Allan M. Brandt's The Cigarette Century
Image courtesy
of Basic Books

Allan M. Brandt, author of The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America, is the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He holds a joint appointment in the department of the history of science at Harvard University. He is author of No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States Since 1880 (Oxford, 1985).

Charles Postel, author of The Populist Vision, is assistant professor of history at California State University, Sacramento. He writes on 19th-century politics in the U.S., specializing in reform movements.

Peter Silver, author of Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America, is assistant professor of history at Princeton University, where he holds the Richard Allen Lester University Preceptorship. He writes on American-Indian history, religious history, and comparative colonial and imperial histories.

The Bancroft Prizes were established at Columbia in 1948 with a bequest from Frederic Bancroft, the historian, author and librarian of the U.S. Department of State, to provide steady development of library resources, to support instruction and research in American history and diplomacy and to recognize exceptional books in the field. See a list of past winners.