The Journal of the American Revolution is pleased to announce Quarters: The Accommodation of the British Army and the Coming of the American Revolution by John Gilbert McCurdy as winner of the 2019 Journal of the American Revolution Book of the Year Award (Cornell University Press).
The Honorable Mention is awarded to The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America by T. H. Breen. (Harvard University Press).
The award—an international award dedicated to nonfiction books specifically on the Revolutionary and Founding eras—has been given annually since 2014 to the work that best reflects the mission of the Journal: to deliver engaging, creative, and intelligent content that makes American Revolution history accessible to a broad audience. The award honors original research combined with a well-crafted narrative that appeals to scholars and non-academic readers alike. Past winners include The Indian World of George Washington by Colin G. Calloway, The Martyr and the Traitor by Virginia DeJohn Anderson, and Brothers at Arms by Larrie D. Ferreiro. The award is judged by a panel of both professional and public historians.
When we announced our list of award finalists, a reader commented that Quarters was about “a specialized topic that attracts few readers no matter how well written.” Today, the topic of quartering may seem specialized, but in the 1760s and 1770s it was one of the biggest topics in the American colonies. The Quartering Act was seen as a major violation of colonial government laws, both because it facilitated the use of regular troops instead of colonially-governed militias to defend the colonies, and because providing quarters was an expense to the colonial governments, an expense those governments passed on to their citizens through taxes. The British military commander in chief in America spent much of his time finding ways to accommodate troops while appeasing the objections of colonists, and the issue was so important that it was addressed in the third amendment to the United States Constitution. It was a central issue in the move towards American independence. For drawing attention to an important topic of the period in an accessible and engaging way, we recognize Quarters and Professor McCurdy with our annual book award. You can listen to the author’s own discussion about the book in his interview on Dispatches, the podcast of the Journal of the American Revolution.