Willamette history professor wins 2012 James Broussard Award

For his book, “Tom Paine’s America,” history professor Seth Cotlar won the 2012 James Broussard Award.

The award for Best First Book was bestowed by the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. The association of scholars is dedicated to exploring the events and meaning of the United States history between 1776 and 1861.

“Winning this award was especially gratifying since it comes from a group of people whose opinion I greatly value, my fellow historians of the early American republic,” Cotlar says.

“Knowing that other scholars of the period read my book and found it worthy of such an honor makes all of those years of research, writing, rewriting and more rewriting worthwhile.”

“Tom Paine’s America” explores the people, ideas and texts that shaped American political debate in the 1790s. Paine was a figurehead of an international, democratic movement, and his increasingly radical political writings were wildly popular in America in the late 1700s.

Cotlar says he aimed to write a book accessible to everyone, not only professional scholars.

“Thomas Paine was a political writer who masterfully communicated the most sophisticated political ideas of his day in a language that resonated with millions of his fellow citizens,” Cotlar says. “The goal of the book is to explore the complicated relationship between Tom Paine and the American democratic tradition.”