America's "Historian Laureate" and the Donors Behind the Prize

Meet Jane Kamensky, the "American historian laureate."

Earlier this year, the New York Historical Society presented her with its annual book prize in American history for A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley. The New York Times describes the book as a "window into the complexities of Revolution-era America."

Now in its twelfth year, the New York Historical Society American History Book Prize honors a non-fiction book on American history or biography that is "distinguished by its scholarship, its literary style and its appeal to a general as well as an academic audience." The winner of last year’s prize was Eric Foner for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

There is no fee for participation. Publishers may submit as many titles as they wish.

Jane Kamensky gets an engraved medal patterned after a medal in the New York Historical Society’s collection, a $50,000 cash prize, and the title American Historian Laureate.

The prize was recently renamed in honor of the philanthropists Barbara and David Zalanick. David is a founding and managing principal of the Jordan Company LP, a New York private equity firm. He is also chairman of Jordan/Zalaznick Advisers, Inc. and JZ International LLC, an investment firm based in London.

A graduate of Columbia University, he serves as a member of board of overseers at Columbia Business School, is a vice chairman of Cornell University’s board of trustees, and serves on the board of the Whitney Museum. Barbara serves on the Board of the New York City Center, Inc.

The society's announcement of this year's award came a few weeks after Taylor Mac won the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.