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Paolucci Book Award

Honoring the best conservative books

Named in honor of the distinguished scholars, teachers, and writers Henry and Anne Paolucci, this annual award—which comes with a $5,000 prize—recognizes the best book that advances conservative principles.

And the winner is...


Bradley Birzer

On October 1, at a dinner in Philadelphia, ISI presented Bradley J. Birzer with the 2016 Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award for Russell Kirk: American Conservative. 

A distinguished panel of judges chose this masterful biography from among five impressive finalists. The Wall Street Journal hails Birzer’s Russell Kirk as “a beautifully written and deeply insightful biography.” The Library of Law and Liberty proclaims it nothing less than “a masterwork”—“the definitive assessment of Kirk as a social, historical, and political thinker.” Likewise, the Claremont Review of Books calls Russell Kirk “the definitive book about this important, fascinating, and good man.”

Perhaps National Review best explained not only the quality but also the timeliness of Birzer’s magisterial work:

Given the confused and dispirited state of American conservatism at the present moment, it is high time for a Russell Kirk revival. The very thought of such a revival is appealing, even exhilarating, and the appearance of Bradley J. Birzer’s splendid and exhaustively researched biography of Kirk just might provide the catalyst needed to set it in motion.

At the Paolucci Award dinner, Birzer gave a stirring talk about what he learned during his extensive research into Russell Kirk’s life and writings.

You can see the talk for yourself on C-Span’s BookTV website.

About the award winner: Bradley J. Birzer holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and is professor of history at Hillsdale College. He has also served as the Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought at the University of Colorado. Dr. Birzer is cofounder of the Imaginative Conservative and a fellow of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He is the author of several other books, including American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth.

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 Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award, a book must be a work of nonfiction by a single author that:

  • Advances our understanding of conservative principles
  • Makes an outstanding contribution to the humanities and the literature of the subject
  • Embodies impeccable scholarship and a respect for the historical continuity of the subject
  • Displays a cross- or interdisciplinary approach to its subject
  • Avoids factional or partisan argumentation

Books will be considered from a range of areas in the humanities, including but not limited to political science, history (especially American history and intellectual history), constitutional law, American domestic or foreign policy, jurisprudence, and higher education.

Nomination Procedures
  1. Nominators should send two (2) copies of each nominated book together with a press release and any other promotional materials.
  2. Letters of nomination should explain why the book is being nominated for the Paolucci Book Award and how it meets the award requirements stated above.
  3. Send nominations to: 

          The Paolucci Book Award
          Attn: Jed Donahue
          Intercollegiate Studies Institute
          3901 Centerville Road
          Wilmington, DE 19807

Awardee’s Lecture and Reception

The winner of this year’s Paolucci Book Award will discuss his or her book at a dinner to be held in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 1. The winner will receive 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).