Morison Awards 2007-2017


2017 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award



The Monitor, The Merrimack, 

and the Civil War Sea Battle 

that Changed History

No single sea battle has had more far-reaching consequences than the one fought in the harbor at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, built an iron fort containing 10 heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack. The North got word of the project, and, in desperation, built the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship. Richly illustrated with photos, maps, and engravings, IRON DAWN is the irresistible story of these incredible, intimidating war machines. Historian Richard Snow brings to vivid life the tensions of the time, explaining how wooden and ironclad ships worked, maneuvered, battled, and sank. 

Richard Snow was born in New York City and graduated with a B.A. from Columbia College in 1970. He worked at American Heritage magazine for nearly four decades and was its editor-in-chief for 17 years. He is the author of several books, among them two novels and a volume of poetry. Snow has served as a consultant for historical motion pictures --- among them Glory --- and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers’ Civil War, and Ric Burns’s award-winning PBS film Coney Island, whose screenplay he wrote. Most recently, he served as a consultant on Ken Burns’s World War II series, "The War."


2016 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award


Give Me A Fast Ship

The Continental Navy and

America's Revolution at Sea


Tim McGrath, winner of the 2016 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature, will be received by the New York Commandery and speak at our Annual Book Award dinner, to be held at the Racquet & Tennis Club in New York City on Monday evening, 7 November 2016.

Tim McGrath is President of Health and Science Health Center executive search firm and has served on the Board of Directors of the Kearsley Retirement Community (founded by Benjamin Franklin’s physician), Christ Church Hospital, the Philadelphia Senior Center, Fort Mifflin on the Delaware, and the Independence Seaport Museum.  He is a graduate of Temple University and the author of numerous articles on management, healthcare and US history. His first book, John Barry: an American Hero in the Age of Sail, won the Navy League’s first Commodore John Barry Book Award in 2010, and the American Revolutionary Roundtable Book of the Year Award.  His latest book Give Me a Fast Ship has received strong reviews from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer and Naval History, Sea History and Military History magazines. It was also awarded the Navy League of the United States, New York Council's John Barry Book Award.


2015 Samuel Eliot Morison Award



The Allied Invasion of Europe

and the D-Day Landings 

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Dr. Craig L. Symonds is Professor of History Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy. The first person to win both the Naval Academy’s “Excellence in Teaching” award (1988) and its “Excellence in Research” award (1998), he also served as History Department chair from 1988 to 1992, and received the Department of the Navy’s Superior Civilian Service medal three times.  He was Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island (1971-74) and at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England (1994-95).  After retirement in 2005, he returned to the Naval Academy for one year in 2011-12 to serve as “The Class of 1957 Distinguished Professor of American Naval History.” 

 Symonds is the author or editor of twenty-six books, including prize-winning biographies of Joseph E. Johnston (1992), Patrick Cleburne (1997), and Franklin Buchanan (1999), as well as The American Heritage History of the Battle of Gettysburg (2001).  Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History (2005), won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Prize for Naval History.  His 2008 book, Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War, won the Barondess Prize, the Laney Prize, the Lyman Prize, the Lincoln Prize, and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Book Award. His book on the Battle of Midway was published in 2011, and his newest book is NEPTUNE: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings(2014).  He won the Nevins-Freeman Prize in 2009, the Dudley Knox Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Naval Historical Foundation in 2014, and the RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature from the Naval Order of the United States, New York Commandery, in 2015 


2014 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award



Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, 

and the Capture  of the Spy Ship Pueblo 


Jack Cheevers is a former Los Angeles Times reporter. He grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in political science. For 27 years he was a newspaper reporter and editor in California. He began researching "Act of War" in 2000 by interviewing the Pueblo's charismatic ex-captain, Lloyd M. (Pete) Bucher. He subsequently interviewed other crewmen and former members of President Lyndon Johnson's administration who were involved with the Pueblo drama. Using the Freedom of Information Act, he obtained thousands of pages of previously secret documents from the State Department, Navy, Central Intelligence Agency, and National Security Agency. He also relied on archival material from South Korea, the Soviet Union, and Eastern bloc nations. Jack and his wife, Kat Matz, live in Oakland, California. 


2013 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award


Walter R. Borneman’s latest book on American history is American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution (Little, Brown, 2014). Others include Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land (HarperCollins, 2003); 1812: The War That Forged a Nation (HarperCollins, 2004); 14,000 Feet: A Celebration of Colorado’s Highest Mountains (with Todd Caudle; Skyline Press, 2005); The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America (HarperCollins, 2006);Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America (Random House, 2008); and The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King. (Little, Brown, 2012).


Borneman is known in Colorado’s mountains as the co-author of A Climbing Guide to Colorado’s Fourteeners, the history and standard routes of Colorado’s 54 peaks above 14,000 feet, which was in-print for twenty-five years. 


Walt has undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Western State College of Colorado (1974, 1975) and wrote his master’s thesis on a town characteristic of the western mining frontier. Borneman received his law degree from the University of Denver (1981). 


He has won awards from the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New York, the Tennessee Library Association and Historical Commission, and the Colorado Humanities Program, and the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal,,, and San Francisco Chronicle. 


2012 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award



The Odyssey of the Codebreaker 

Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway  


Elliot Carlson is a longtime journalist who has worked for such newspapers and magazines as the Honolulu Advertiser and the Wall Street Journal. His biography of Joe Rochefort won the 2012 Samuel Eliot Morison award for naval literature and the 2011 Roosevelt history prize. He lives in Silver Spring, MD, with his wife Norma. 


2011 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award




Robert Gandt was born in Springfield, Missouri, and raised in nearby Coffeyville, Kansas. At age twenty he was the youngest aviator and officer then on active duty in the U. S. Navy. After accumulating over 300 carrier landings and nearly 2000 hours in the A-4 Skyhawk,[1] he joined Pan American World Airways as an airline pilot in 1965. With the sale of Pan Am's Atlantic routes in 1991, he transferred to Delta Airlines as a captain and check airman. In 1985, Gandt was a founder and team member of the Redhawk Formation Aerobatic Team, flying SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 military trainers in precision formation aerobatic routines. Gandt's writing career began in the mid-1970s when he was based in Hong Kong. Season of Storms: The Siege of Hong Kong 1941, was drawn from the newspaper series he produced for the South China Morning Post.[2] His subsequent works were derived from his own experience and connections to military and aviation figures. Gandt’s naval aviation chronicle Bogeys and Bandits (Viking, 1997) was adapted for the CBS seriesPensacola: Wings of Gold, for which Gandt worked as a writer and technical consultant.[3] The first of his novels, With Hostile Intent, was published by Penguin Group in 2001.[4] With co-author Bill White and with a foreword by Senator John McCain, Gandt wrote Intrepid: The Epic Story of America's Most Legendary Warship (Random House, 2009), which won the Admiral Farragut Book Award.[5] His multi-viewpoint account of the World War II battle for Okinawa, The Twilight Warriors (Random house, 2010) was the winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature.[6] He is a graduate of Charter Oak State College with a B.A in History. He is a member and contributor to The Tailhook Association, the The Authors Guild, Mensa International, the Experimental Aircraft Association, Quiet Birdmen and the Naval Order of the United States.


2010 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award



The Unotld Story of

Israel's Deadly 1967 Assault

on a U.S. Spy Ship


James Scott is an award-winning writer and former reporter and investigative journalist with the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier. Scott has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq and tsunami-devastated Indonesia as well as worked in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a recipient of the McClatchy Company President’s Award and was named the 2003 Journalist of the Year by the South Carolina Press Association. Wofford College honored Scott as its 2005 Young Alumnus of the Year. From 2006-2007 he was a Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University. Scott currently is at work on a book on the perils of submarine warfare in the Pacific during World War II, also for Simon & Schuster. He lives with his wife and two children in Charleston, S.C.

In 1967 the spy ship U.S.S. Liberty was attacked by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats in international waters during the Six-Day War. Thirty four sailors were killed and 171 wounded, many critically. Israel claimed mistaken identity, which a U.S. naval court of inquiry confirmed, but that explanation is contradicted by the facts of the case.

James Scott has conducted hundreds of interviews with Liberty survivors, senior administration and intelligence officials and examined newly declassified documents in Israel and the United States to write this comprehensive, dramatic account. Some of his sources have never spoken publicly about the Liberty until now. Scott reveals the outrage felt by many inside the Pentagon, State Department, NSA and Navy and shows that some officers inside Israel’s chain of command were aware of the Liberty’s real identity. He also documents through interviews how events in Vietnam prompted the American government to de-emphasize the attack despite widespread disbelief of Israel’s story.

Journalist and son of an attack survivor: Scott’s father, John, was an officer and damage control engineer aboard the Liberty who was awarded the Silver Star for helping to save the ship from sinking.


2009 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award



How the American Revolution

Went to Sea


James L. Nelson was born and grew up in Lewiston, Maine, and after working in the television industry for two years he ran away to sea, sailing aboard reproductions of three famous ships of the age of sail: Golden Hind, Lady Washington and HMS Rose. In 1994, he finished By Force of Arms, his first book, and married former shipmate Lisa Page. They now live with their four children in Harpswell, Maine, where occasionally he also sails and rigs ships.

Jim has written fifteen books, both fiction and nonfiction, including Benedict Arnold’s Navy. He has written two series of novels about the age of sail, and his novel Glory in the Name was the 2004 winner of the American Library Association/William Young Boyd Award for best Military Fiction.

Jim is a graduate of UCLA Film School. Noted author Patrick O’Brian described him as “a master of both his period and the English language.” 


2008 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award



The Forging of the American Navy From

The Revolution to the War of 1812


George C. Daughan holds a Ph.D. in American History and Government from Harvard University. He spent three years in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. He taught at the Air Force Academy and was also director of the MA program of international affairs there.  Subsequently, he held a professorship at Connecticut College, and also taught at the University of Colorado, the University of New Hampshire, and Wesleyan University.


2007 RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award



The Epic Story of

the Founding of the US Navy


Ian W. Toll has been a Wall Street analyst, a Federal Reserve financial analyst, and a political aide and speechwriter. Six Frigates is his first book.

Ian's previous career adventures included stints at Credit Suisse First Boston's technology group, covering enterprise software and e-commerce. He worked in similar positions at Alex Brown and Thomas Weisel Partners, covering wireless communications, e-commerce, and software. Earlier, as a Financial Analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Ian published numerous reports and articles, including the influential 1996 article "Bad Debt Rising," published in Current Issues (co-authored with Donald Morgan), on the factors behind the increasing rate of credit card loan defaults. He served as a legislative staff assistant to U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and a policy analyst for Lieutenant Governor Stan Lundine of New York State during the Cuomo Administration.

Ian received his undergraduate degree in American History at Georgetown University (1989) and his Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government (1995).

Ian has pursued an interest in the "age of fighting sail" since reading Patrick O'Brian's series of historical novels in the early 1990's. Since that time, and in the course of researching Six Frigates, Ian has read hundreds of books on the subject and has delved deeply into the original documentary history of the early American navy.

A lifelong sailor, Ian has raced Solings, J-24's, Swans, and other designs; and he has skippered cruising yachts of various kinds throughout the coastal waters of New England and the Caribbean.