Books, Reviews, Prints

2018 Grateful American Book Prize Winner Announced

September 20, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 20 – The winner of the 2018 Grateful American Book Prize is L.M. Elliott, for her historical novel, Suspect Red, a look at McCarthyism and the Red Scare, published by Hyperion-Disney. She will also receive an Honorable Mention award for Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship, published by HarperCollins and Katherine Tegen Books. It’s the first time an author will be given the Prize, and an Honorable Mention.

Author and publisher David Bruce Smith, who co-founded the Prize with the late Dr. Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, calls Suspect Red “a historically accurate novel of suspense that will engage young readers in a complicated period of America’s history.”

The School Library Journal review of Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship, noted “The story is drawn from extensive research on each of the characters, through their letters, magazines, newspapers, and personal diaries. Elliott has accomplished something wonderful here, and this is an absolute must-have for all middle and high school collections.”

Teri Kanefield, who will receive an “Honorable Mention” for her biography of Andrew Jackson, is the author of The Making of America series published by Harry N. Abrams. In addition to “Jackson,” she has written about Alexander Hamilton (2017), and Abraham Lincoln (2018). Her “Susan B. Anthony” and “Franklin Delano Roosevelt” will appear in 2019, and the publication date of “Thurgood Marshall” is pending.

The goal of the Grateful American Book Prize, as Ms. Elliott described it, is to “restore history as the captivating subject it is. History is, after all, a human drama, the story of how we got to where we are. Teachers are faced with the daunting task of covering centuries of events, leaders, political and cultural movements, wars, and statistics, on and on. Historical or biographical fiction, if done well, immerses its reader in a time period and brings a beating heart to those ‘dry’ facts. It offers something for which students hunger—humanizing the history they must memorize for tests by telling it through the eyes of an ‘everyman’—a character who must navigate national situations and experiences fears, longing, and moments of revelation, a person with whom readers empathize and turn each page concerned about what happens next. Engaged in a compelling, well-researched story, teens learn so much about a time period and its challenges by osmosis. They’re just enjoying a good story–even if it’s about frightening, complex times, with large lessons, as is Suspect Red.

“This Prize is a gift to all of us taking on the responsibility (and the joy!) of writing historical pieces for young people. I am very lucky to have wonderful editors who believe in historical narratives and are willing to take on the extra work they require. Others in the publishing industry need convincing that such novels have just as much interest-value and potential audience as more pop-culture genres–this Prize does so much to promote that! So I know I speak for all historical novelists when I say we are GRATEFUL!”

The Grateful American Book Prize comes with an award of $13,000, a lifetime pass to the New-York Historical Society, and a medallion created by the American artist, Clarice Smith. The October 11th presentation will be at The Society of the Cincinnati in Washington, D.C. The “Honorable Mention” authors receive the medallion, and $500 each.