Annal: 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History

Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1993.

Book:Radicalism of the American Revolution

Radicalism of the American Revolution

Gordon S. Wood

Grand in scope, rigorous in its arguments, and elegantly synthesizing thirty years of scholarship, this splendid book is likely to become the definitive work on the social, political, and economic consequences of 1776.

In The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Gordon S. Wood depicts not just a break with England, but the rejection of an entire way of life: of a society of feudal dependencies, a politics of patronage, and a world view in which people were divided between the nobility and “the Herd.” He shows how the theories of the country’s founders became realities that sometimes baffled and disappointed them. Above all, the Bancroft Prize-winning historian rescues the revolution from abstraction, allowing readers to see it with a true sense of its drama — and not a little awe.

Book:Lincoln at Gettysburg

Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America

Garry Wills

The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration than in the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln was asked to memorialize the gruesome battle. Instead, he gave the whole nation “a new birth of freedom” in the space of a mere 272 words. His entire life and previous training, and his deep political experience went into this, his revolutionary masterpiece.

By examining both the address and Lincoln in their historical moment and cultural frame, Wills breathes new life into words we thought we knew, and reveals much about a president so mythologized but often misunderstood. Wills shows how Lincoln came to change the world and to effect an intellectual revolution, how his words had to and did complete the work of the guns, and how Lincoln wove a spell that has not yet been broken.

Book:The Promise of the New South

The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction

Edward L. Ayers

At a public picnic in the South in the 1890s, a young man paid five cents for his first chance to hear the revolutionary Edison talking machine. He eagerly listened as the soundman placed the needle down, only to find that through the tubes he held to his ears came the chilling sounds of a lynching. In this story, with its blend of new technology and old hatreds, genteel picnic and mob violence, Edward Ayers captures the history of the South in the years between Reconstruction and the turn of the century—a combination of progress and reaction that defined the contradictory promise of the New South.

Ranging from the Georgia coast to the Tennessee mountains, from the power brokers to tenant farmers, Ayers depicts a land of startling contrasts—a time of progress and repression, of new industries and old ways. Ayers takes us from remote Southern towns, revolutionized by the spread of the railroads, to the statehouses where Democratic “Redeemers” swept away the legacy…[more]

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