Nick Bunker Wins the George Washington Book Prize

It is one the nation’s largest literary awards. 

The George Washington Book Prize is awarded every year to the best book on early American history written for a broad audience.  It is sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.   In 2011, our Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction was one of the three finalists. You can read about that amazing experience here and here.

This year’s winner was Nick Bunker’s An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America. Bunker beat out three other books: Richard Dunn’s A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia, Francois Furstenberg’s When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation, and Eric Nelson’s The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding.


Here is a taste of the press release:

An Empire on the Edge is a probing account of Great Britain’s internal political and financial tensions on the eve of revolution. Drawing on a careful study of primary sources from Britain and the United States, Bunker crafts a compelling story of the deepening antagonism between England and her colonies, giving equal weight to the commercial as well as the political ambitions of the British Empire.  Bunker’s series of fully visualized scenes of familiar events like the Boston Tea Party and lesser-known episodes such as the Gaspee Affair, provides a nuanced description of the Anglo-American conflict.
An independent scholar in Lincolnshire, England, Bunker was formerly a journalist for theFinancial Times and an investment banker. Bunker’s background in finance is evident in his insightful portrait of London’s speculative cycles, the financial woes of the East India Company, and the networks of global trade that put the imperial system “slipping into ruin.”
In addition to claiming the Washington Book Prize, An Empire on the Edge was recently announced as a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in history, earning praise for its “bifocal perspective on the countdown to the American Revolution.” Empire on Edge is Bunker’s second book: he previously authored Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History (2010).
“Bunker’s book takes readers from the wharves of Boston to the halls of Parliament and the tea plantations of China,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. “He shows us that the fate of the American colonies depended on events in all of those places. This is historical narrative at its most vivid and engrossing.”