Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History in the War Studies Department, was awarded the sixth annual Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History for his book Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the Conflict That Made the Modern World. The prize is bestowed annually in recognition of the best book in the field of military history published in English during the previous calendar year.
“Students of every period of history, from ancient Athens and Carthage through modern Europe and the British Empire will be fascinated and enlightened by this learned and deeply original book. Andrew Lambert has given us a new perspective on 3,000 years of history connected by the idea of seapower, and it will stand for decades,” observed James Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
“It is a great honour to be awarded the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History for 2018,” said Professor Lambert. “The Institute has a proud and progressive tradition in the furtherance of education and the inclusion of ever wider audiences in the critical process of understanding how important the past is to shaping the present. At another level I am particularly proud that Seapower States is the first work of naval history to be recognized, joining a highly distinguished list of past winners, and emphasizing the fact that the word military covers all aspects of war, not just the operations of armies.”
Professor Lambert, who traces his interest in seapower nations to his honeymoon in Venice thirty years ago, reflects that “seapower was more than a strategic tool that could be wielded by any state with a coast and enough money; it was first and foremost a culture, an identity shared across time by a small group of great powers that used the sea to define and defend themselves against their continental peers. These Seapower States, Athens, Carthage, Venice, the Dutch Republic, and Great Britain, were acutely conscious of their precursors. They made secular temples of their naval bases, deified their naval heroes, created marine art, and built sea empires of connected ports and bases, in contrast to the terrestrial empires of their landed peers. They are the source of much that we in the progressive democratic west take for granted, while those values still meet resistance in authoritarian continental empires.”
The intent of the Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History at the New-York Historical Society is to draw public attention to military history not only as an important staple of education in the areas of international relations, diplomacy, and conflict studies, but also as a subject in which any educated citizen should be interested. The study of the steps to war, conduct of military campaigns, and diplomatic responses to war can play an essential role in the quest for a more peaceable future.