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The Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction


In 1997, Jeff Shaara, the critically acclaimed best-selling author established The Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction. This award was named in honor of his father, the author of the novel The Killer Angels. The United States Civil War Center encourages fresh approaches to Civil War fiction and The Killer Angels and Jeff Shaara's novel, Gods and Generals, are examples of Civil War novels that take an unusual approach to the war: both are psychological studies and both evenhandedly deal with both sides of the conflict.

The award was conducted by the United States Civil War Center from 1997 to 2004. In 2005 the award was moved to the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. The CWI will ensure that excellent Civil War fiction will continue to be recognized. Please contact the Civil War Institute for more information and for submission guidelines.

2004 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction

Jeff Shaara and Philip Lee Williams

   Click to view Philip Lee Williams' website.

Philip Lee Williams, author of the Civil War novel A Distant Flame (St. Martin's Press, 2004), was presented with the 2004 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction on June 16 at a ceremony held at the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS). The program was introduced by MHS librarian Peter Drummey. After a presentation by award-sponsor Jeff Shaara and Civil War Center representative Leah Jewett, Williams read from his winning novel. Williams and Shaara signed books and spoke with guests at a reception following the event.

Philip Lee Williams is an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing and Franklin College Editor at the University of Georgia. He is the author of several novels, works of creative non-fiction, poetry, fiction, essays and screenplays, and has written and co-produced three television documentaries. Williams was named Georgia Author of the Year in Fiction in 1991. His award-winning work has also earned him the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and honors from the New York and the Columbus (Ohio) Film Festivals.

Jeff Shaara's father, Michael Shaara, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for the Civil War novel, The Killer Angels, on which the movie Gettysburg was based. Historians and novelists frequently point to The Killer Angels as the book that inspired them to write about the Civil War. Jeff Shaara is the author of the Civil War novels Gods and Generals, and The Last Full Measure. His most recent novel is To The Last Man: A Novel of the First World War (Ballantine, 2004).

The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is a major research library and manuscript repository. Its holdings encompass millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history, including many items from the Civil War era. For more information visit

The USCWC would like to thank the following individuals for their help with this year's award and ceremony: MHS representatives Peter Drummey and Beth Krimmel; Judges Paul Ashdown, Professor, School of Journalism and Electronic Media, University of Tennessee; Diana Barrett, historical researcher; June Pulliam, Instructor, Department of English, Louisiana State University; and Screening Committee Members Randal Allred, Charles and Mary Barre', John Dubuisson, Margaret Harrison, Angie Juban, Tara Z. Laver, Sylvia Rodrigue, Irina Sterpu, and Rose Tarbell.

2003 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction

Judges for the 2003 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction determined that no award would be given that year. Although many of the nominated books took interesting and unusual approaches to the Civil War, the judges ultimately felt that none met all of the award criteria. Judges for the 2003 award were Paul Ashdown, journalism professor at the University of Tennessee; Diana Barrett, a historical researcher working on history-mystery novels by women writers; and Larry Olpin, Professor Emeritus of English at Central Missouri State University and author of work-in-progress on Civil War novels written between 1950 and 2000.

2002 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction


Photos:Jeff Shaara and Marie Jakober. Group Photo Back Row: Charles Nunez (New Orleans Civil War Round Table), Larry Olpin (2002 Michael Shaara Award judge), Jeff Shaara (Award Sponsor), and Bill Meneray (Tulane Libraries Special Collections & USCWC On-Site Advisory Board Member) Front Row: Leah W. Jewett (USCWC Director), Marie Jakober (2002 Michael Shaara Award winner), and David Madden (USCWC Founding Director & USCWC On-Site Advisory Board Member). Photographs by Margaret Olpin.

The 2002 Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction was presented on Sunday, June 29, 2003, in New Orleans to Marie Jakober, author of Only Call Us Faithful (Forge Books). The ceremony took place in Joseph Jones Hall, Tulane University Libraries Special Collections. The ceremony was co-sponsored by the U. S. Civil War Center along with the New Orleans Civil War Round Table and Tulane University Libraries Special Collections.

Jakober read from her winning novel and answered questions from the audience. A reception and book signing followed the ceremony.

Only Call Us Faithful is the story of Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew, told from the perspective of her ghost. Using primary sources such as diaries and personal accounts, Marie Jakober has painted a vivid portrait of one the Civil War's most unusual heroes, Elizabeth Van Lew, using a unique approach. Award judges remark that the novel is "beautifully articulate," "original and engaging," and that it "contributes a unique voice" to Civil War fiction.

Jakober's acclaimed fantasy novel The Black Chalice was published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (1999), and nominated for the Sunburst Award. In February 2002, it was published by Ace as a trade paperback, and was a featured selection of the Science Fiction Book Club. Jakober is the author of five additional novels including Sandinista (1985) and A People in Arms (1987), two novels about the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, published by New Star Books in Vancouver. Sandinista won the 1985 Writer's Guild of Alberta Novel Award. One of Jakober's short stories is featured in The Blue and the Gray Undercover (Forge, 2001), an anthology about espionage in the Civil war. The author lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Judges for the 2002 award were: Randall Allred, Professor of English, Brigham Young University-Hawaii; Larry Olpin, Professor Emeritus, Central Missouri State University; and June Pulliam, Professor of English, Louisiana State University.

2001 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction

Jeff Shaara, Marly Youmans, Leah W. Jewett. Photograph by Mark Jewett.

The Wolf Pit cover imageThe 2001 Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction was presented on June 26, 2002, in St. Louis to Marly Youmans, author of The Wolf Pit (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001). The ceremony took place at the Missouri Historical Society in Forest Park. Youmans read from her winning novel; a reception and book signing, featuring both the winner and Jeff Shaara, followed the ceremony.

Marly Youmans is a native and longtime resident of the Carolinas who now lives in Cooperstown, New York, with her husband and children. As a child she lived in Gramercy and Baton Rouge, where her father completed a Ph.D. at LSU and her mother worked at the State Library. Educated at Hollins, Brown, and Chapel Hill, she was tenured as an associate professor in the SUNY system before writing full time. Other works include: Little Jordan (David R. Godine, Publisher, 1995); Catherwood (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996); The Curse of the Raven Mocker, a fantasy novel set in the Carolina and Tennessee mountains (Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, Fall 2003); and Claire, a collection of poems (Louisiana State University Press, Fall 2003.) Recently Youmans completed another novel, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage.

Judges of the 2001 award were Josephine Humphreys, author of Civil War novel Nowhere Else on Earth; Howard Beeth, Professor of History at Texas Southern University; and Randal Allred, Associate Professor of English, Division of Literature, Language, & Cultural Studies at Brigham Young University in Hawaii.

2000 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction

Leah W. Jewett, Richard Slotkin, Jeff Shaara, Pamela Coleman.

The 2000 Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction was presented to Richard Slotkin, author of Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln (Henry Holt and Company, 2000) on July 16, 2001, at the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Slotkin read from his winning novel; a reception and book signing featuring both the winner and award sponsor Jeff Shaara followed the ceremony. Richard Slotkin is the Olin Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he teaches interdisciplinary courses in American literature, history and film

Judges were Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (historian), James Hollandsworth, Jr. (historian), and Christopher Lehman-Haupt (New York Times Book Review).

1999 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction

Robert J. Mrazek, author of Stonewall's Gold (St. Martin's Press), has been named the recipient of the 1999 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction. The award was presented at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 27, at the New York State Archives in Albany, N.Y. A former member of Congress, Mrazek was the original sponsor of the Landmark Preservation Act of 1989, which protected the Manassas battlefield from impending commercial development. Stonewall's Gold is his first novel.

Two novels -- The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch (Harmony Books) and Faded Coat of Blue by Owen Parry (Avon Books) -- were designated as Honor Books. Judges for the 1999 award were Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Winston Groom and Peggy Prenshaw.

1998 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction

Pictured: (Left to Right) Donald McCaig, Leah W. Jewett, Jeff Shaara

Donald McCaig, author of Jacob's Ladder: A Story of Virginia During the Civil War (W.W. Norton, 1998), the recipient of the 1998 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction. Jeff Shaara presented the award at a ceremony held at and sponsored by the Richmond-Chesterfield Barnes and Noble in Richmond, Virginia. McCaig is the author of four novels that include The Butte Polka and Nop's Trials. One of his best-known nonfiction works is Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men.

Two novels, Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks (HarperCollins, 1998) and All True Adventures of Liddie Newton by Jane Smiley (Knopf, 1998), were designated as Honor Books. Judges for the 1998 Award were Civil War novelists Mary Lee Settle, Robert Fowler, and Madison Jones, the 1997 winner of the Michael Shaara Award.

1997 Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction

Pictured: (Left to Right) David Madden, Jeff Shaara, Madison Jones, and John Sanders at the 1997 Michael Shaara Award Ceremony, July 1998.

Madison Jones, author of Nashville 1864 (J. S. Sanders & Co., 1997) has been named the recipient of the first annual Michael Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction. Shaara's son, Jeff, also a Civil War novelist, presented the award at ceremonies held on July 15 at the Davis-Kidd Bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee. Madison Jones is the author of nine previous novels that include An Exile, A Cry of Absence and To The Winds. The Nashville native is professor emeritus of English at Auburn University in Alabama.