The U.S. Commission on Military History announces the inauguration of the Brigadier General James L. Collins Jr. Book Prize in Military History. The prize entails a $1,000 award to the author of any nationality of the best book written in English on U.S. military history published during 2009, 2010, and 2011. The Collins Book Prize Committee, comprised of USCMH members Dr. Edward J. Marolda, Chair, Dr. Jeffrey Clark, and Dr. Kelly Devries, will select the winner based on the following criteria. Topics in all periods and all aspects of U.S. military history (including naval and air warfare) will be considered, including theory, operations, biography, technology and science, strategy and tactics, social, and diplomatic. Special consideration will be given to those works promising to have the most significant impact on the study of America’s military past, and in keeping with the mission of the USCMH, award preference will be given to books that highlight the international aspects of U.S. military history.
Books considered by the Collins Book Prize Committee must be submitted to the USCMH by 30 June 2012. Upon notification from the selection committee, the Collins Book Prize will be presented at the USCMH Annual General Meeting usually held in November. For information contact the Collins Book Prize Committee Chair at: Edward.Marolda@navy.mil.
The late Brigadier General James L. Collins Jr., former Chief of Military History (1970-1982, and a founding member of the U.S. Commission on Military History was a pivotal figure in the resurgence and sustained use of history in the United States Army. His long tenure, the longest of any Chief of Military History, solid integrity, gracious manners, quick intellect, and love of history and historians makes it highly appropriate that a U.S. Commission on Military History book prize is named for him.
General Collins had a long and distinguished career before coming to the U.S. Army Center of Military History. Born in 1917 in El Paso, Texas, he graduated from West Point in 1939. He served in World War II in the Field Artillery, landed on Utah Beach in the Normandy invasion, and ended the war as a battalion commander. A skilled linguist, he served as the first director of the Defense Language Institute in 1959. In Vietnam he served as the special assistant to Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (COMUSMACV) General William Westmoreland. Following his retirement in 1969 he was recalled first to serve as a U.S. representative on a mission to the Soviet Union and then to take the helm as Chief of Military History. In the latter capacity he inaugurated the Vietnam War Monograph series and staffed the Center to begin work on the official U.S. Army history of that war. General Collins was key to establishment of the USCMH in association with the ICMH; in 1973 the Center and the Smithsonian Institution jointly sponsored the first American meeting. He again retired from the Army in 1982 but remained active in the historical profession until the end of his life. During his years on active duty, General Collins earned the Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device (for valor), and the Purple Heart.