CHESTERTOWN, MD— Financial crises. Political turmoil. Nations and empires crumbling from speculation and overexpansion. Such scenarios crowd the hourly newsfeeds of our mobile devices and television screens. And as Nick Bunker, winner of the 2015 George Washington Book Prize, vividly demonstrates, they also contributed to the birth of the United States more than 200 years ago. Bunker’s winning book, An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America (Knopf), a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize, vividly recounts the outbreak of the American Revolution as a global story of financial mismanagement, political bungling, and military disaster.
Bunker, a former journalist and investment banker, will speak about the book at Washington College on Friday, Sept. 25, at 5:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. A book signing will begin at 4:00 p.m. in Underwood Lobby, and a reception will be held after the talk. Hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, all events are free and open to the public.
The $50,000 Washington Prize was awarded to Bunker at a black-tie dinner at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in May. Sponsored by WC, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Mount Vernon, the Washington Prize is one of the largest literary prizes in the nation. Awarded annually for the year’s best book about America’s founding era, it particularly recognizes well-written books that contribute to a broad public understanding of the American past.
When Bunker, who lives in England, visits WC this month for the Prize celebration, he will meet with students and engage in a number of campus-wide activities, including representing his alma mater Kings College, Cambridge University,in the processional during the inauguration of the college’s new president, Sheila Bair.
“An Empire on the Edge” is Bunker’s second book. He also authored “Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History” (2011).
The Washington Prize jury praised “An Empire on the Edge” for its global perspective, lively character portrayals, well-crafted narrative, and compelling accounts of both familiar events such as the Boston Tea Party and lesser-known episodes such as the Gaspee Affair. “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 WC’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 engrossing.
The Washington Prize was created in 2005 and was awarded that year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton, the book that subsequently inspired playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda’s current Broadway hit Hamilton. Learn more about the Prize at www.washcoll.edu/gwbookprize.