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Paolucci Book Award

Honoring the conservative book of the year

This annual award recognizes the best book that advances conservative principles. It comes with a $5,000 cash prize.

And the winner is...


At a dinner in Philadelphia on April 7, Rod Dreher accepted ISI’s 2018 Paolucci Book Award for The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. The award recognizes the year’s best book that advances conservative principles.

Praise for The Benedict Option:

“The most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” 
—David Brooks, New York Times 

“A searing indictment of modernity, American culture, and Christendom . . . A fearless book [that] deals with almost every area of life—politics and education, church and community, technology and sexual relations.”
National Review

“A terrific book: provocative in its content, shrewd in its insights, vivid and engaging in its style.” 
—Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

“Dreher’s deeper, ‘how to build a counterculture’ argument . . . matters in the polarized, fragmenting America. . . . We have a severe problem of rootlessness, hyper-individualism and anomie.”
—Ross Douthat, New York Times

A distinguished panel of judges chose this widely discussed, bestselling book from among four impressive finalists.

About the Paolucci Award winner: ROD DREHER is a senior editor at The American Conservative and the author of Crunchy ConsHow Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. He has written and edited for the New York Post, the Dallas Morning NewsNational Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Dreher’s commentary has been published in the Wall Street JournalCommentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Louisiana with his wife and their three children.  ​

The Award
Headshots of Henry and Anne Paolucci

The Paolucci Book Award is an annual honor recognizing the best book that advances conservative principles. The award is named in memory of Henry and Anne Paolucci, distinguished scholars, teachers, and writers who exemplified the ideal of the public intellectual.

The award winner’s lecture is routinely aired on C-SPAN’s Book TV. See links below for previous broadcasts. Past winners of the Paolucci Book Award (formerly known as the Henry Paolucci/Walter Bagehot Book Award) include:

Award Requirements

To be considered for the 2018 Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award, a book must be a work of nonfiction that:

  • Advances our understanding of conservative principles
  • Makes an outstanding contribution to the humanities and the literature of the subject
  • Avoids factional or partisan argumentation
  • Was first published in 2016 or 2017

Nominations for the 2018 prize are now closed. 

A distinguished panel of judges selected the 2018 Paolucci Book Award winner:

  • Amity Shlaes, author of Coolidge and The Forgotten Man
  • Angelo M. Codevilla, author of Advice to War Presidents (winner of the 2010 Paolucci Book Award)
  • Clara Sarrocco, executive director of the Council on National Literatures
  • Matthew A. Pauley, chair of political science and legal studies at Manhattanville College
  • Ronald F. Docksai, president of the Walter Bagehot Council
  • Serphin Maltese, former chairman of the Conservative Party of New York
How to Nominate a Book

Nominations for the 2018 Paolucci Book Award are now closed.

Questions? Email us at

Award Ceremony

The winner of the 2018 Paolucci Book Award, Rod Dreher, discussed his book The Benedict Option at a dinner in Philadelphia on Saturday, April 7, 2018. Dreher received the $5,000 cash award at that time..


About Henry and Anne Paolucci

Henry Paolucci, PhD (1922–1999), was a prolific scholar of classical politics and literature. He was a professor of government and politics at St. John’s University and also taught ancient Greek and Roman history at Iona College, Brooklyn College, and the City College of New York, as well as a graduate course on Dante and medieval culture at Columbia University. Dr. Paolucci wrote or edited more than thirty books and was a frequent contributor to national magazines and newspapers. He is well known for his studies of the political thought of Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Machiavelli, and Hegel. The founding president of the Walter Bagehot Council on National Sovereignty, Dr. Paolucci served for many years as vice chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State. In 1964 he ran as the Conservative candidate for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Robert F. Kennedy and the Republican incumbent, Kenneth Keating. 

Anne Paolucci, PhD (1926–2012), displayed a wide range of intellectual interests in her long and distinguished scholarly career. Born in Rome, she settled with her family in New York at the age of eight and went on to earn a PhD from Columbia University. Dr. Paolucci taught English at the City College of New York before joining the faculty of St. John’s University as its first University Research Professor. A prolific writer on Renaissance drama, dramatic theory, Hegelian aesthetics, Spenser, Dante, Machiavelli, and classical and Shakespearean tragedy, Dr. Paolucci was perhaps best known for her work on the plays of Pirandello and of Edward Albee. She was the founding president of the Council on National Literatures. For nearly a decade she served on the National Council on the Humanities, and she became the first woman to chair the Board of ­Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY).