University | 3:51 pm | April 16, 2012 | By Daniel Sisgoreo

Gaddis wins Pulitzer for Kennan biography

History Prof. John Lewis Gaddis received the National Humanities Medal in 2005.
History Prof. John Lewis Gaddis received the National Humanities Medal in 2005. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

History professor John Lewis Gaddis can add yet another accolade to his biography of American diplomat George Kennan: the Pulitzer Prize, America’s most prestigious award for letters.

Gaddis won the 2012 biography Pulitzer for “George F. Kennan: An American Life,” which was published in November after nearly two decades of research. In naming Gaddis the winner, the Pulitzer jurors called his work “an engaging portrait of a globetrotting diplomat whose complicated life was interwoven with the Cold War and America’s emergence as the world’s dominant power.”

Mary Gabriel’s “Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution” and Manning Marble’s “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” were named as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

In March, Gaddis’ biography took home the American History Book Prize, earning him $50,000 and the title of American Historian Laureate. The Kennan biography also won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Gaddis wasn’t the only Yalie honored Monday afternoon — Wesley Morris ’97, Quiara Alegría Hudes ’99 and Stephen Greenblatt ’64 GRD ’69 all took home awards, as well.

Morris, a film critic for the Boston Globe, won the award for Criticism for his “smart, inventive film criticism, distinguished by pinpoint prose and an easy traverse between the art house and the big-screen box office.” Washington Post culture critic Philip Kennicott ’88 was a finalist.

Hudes’ “Water by the Spoonful,” a play about an Iraq war veteran who lives in Philadelphia, took the Drama prize, and Greenblatt took home the General Nonfiction prize for “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.” Greenblatt’s book earned the prize by “arguing that an obscure work of philosophy, discovered nearly 600 years ago, changed the course of history by anticipating the science and sensibilities of today.”

UPDATE: Kevin Puts MUS ’96 also took home a Pulitzer on Monday. Puts won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his opera, “Silent Night.” Andrew Norman MUS ’09 was a finalist for that award.

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