William E. Colby Military Writers' Award

The William E. Colby Military Writers' Award is named for William E. Colby, a notable American intelligence officer and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Colby Award recognizes a first book-length work of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs.

Books are nominated by publishers, agents, or promoters, and cannot be self-nominated. All nominated books are considered in a two-step review process. First-round award reviewers carefully consider all nominated eligible books. Then, the five top-scoring titles are reviewed by the Colby Award Selection Committee, which consists of five former Colby winners and a committee chair. 

Books are scored on their depth of research, significance of the work, subject-material clarity and writing quality. The Colby Award review process considers the book and its subject on its own merits absent author biographical context. 

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The Colby Award is presented annually at Norwich University during the NU Military Writers’ Symposium in Northfield, Vermont. The annual symposium is a signature event of the John & Mary Frances Patton Peace and War Center.

The award and symposium are held in partnership with the Pritzker Military Foundation (PMF) through the Pritzker Military Museum & Library.


To complete your nomination, please follow these steps:

  1. Complete the online nomination form
  2. Submit the $60.00 nomination fee through our secure online payment manager.
  3. Mail 10 copies of the book to: Norwich University Peace & War Center, 158 Harmon Drive, Northfield VT 05663.

Deadline: Deadline: December 31, 2023 (Nomination window opens September 1, 2023)

Questions: See our Frequently Asked Questions below. Or email peaceandwar@norwich.edu 

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Carlo D’Este ’58 Military Writers’ Endowment

The Carlo D’Este ’58 Military Writers’ Endowment provides funding in perpetuity to support the operating costs of the Norwich University Military Writers' Symposium, the William E. Colby Award, and year-round student enrichment opportunities on military history and current affairs. It also honors the legacy of Carlo D’Este, a 1958 Norwich graduate, beloved co-founder of the Military Writers’ Symposium, decorated U.S. Army colonel and renowned military historian. Carlo passed away on November 21, 2020 at the age of 84.

Highlighted Award Winners

For a full list of winners, see FAQ below.

Charles E. Stanley Jr.
Charles A. Stanley Jr.

2023 Colby Award Winner

Lost Airmen: The Epic Rescue of WWII U.S. Bomber Crews Stranded Behind Enemy Lines (Regnery History)

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2019 Colby Winner
Paul Scharre

2019 Colby Award Winner

Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War (W. W. Norton & Company)

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2011 Colby Winner
Karl Marlantes

2011 Colby Award Winner

Matterhorn (Atlantic Monthly Press)

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Frequently Asked Questions

To qualify for consideration for the Colby Award: 
1. The book must be a FIRST WORK by the author. 
2. Submissions must be received by the stated deadline. 
3. Self-nominations are not accepted. 
4. The Colby Award recipient must be present at the symposium at Norwich University and participate in an appearance at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago based upon the author’s schedule.

2023, Charles E. Stanley Jr., Lost Airmen: The Epic Rescue of WWII U.S. Bomber Crews Stranded Behind Enemy Lines (Regnery History)

2022, Wesley Morgan, The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan’s Pech Valley (Random House)

2021, Mark Treanor, A Quiet Cadence (Naval Institute Press)

2020, Adam Higginbotham, Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster (Simon & Schuster)

2019, Paul Scharre, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War (W. W. Norton & Company)

2018, Steven E. Sodergren, The Army of the Potomac in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns: Union Soldiers and Trench Warfare, 1864-1865 (LSU Press)

2017, David Barron, Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress, 1776 to ISIS (Simon and Schuster)

2016, Nisid Hajari, Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

2015, COL Douglas Mastriano, Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne (The University Press of Kentucky)

2014, Logan Beirne, Blood of Tyrants: George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency (Encounter Books)

2013, Thomas P. McKenna, Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam (The University Press of Kentucky)

2012, Michael Franzak, A Nightmare’s Prayer (Threshold Editions)

2011, Karl Marlantes, Matterhorn (Atlantic Monthly Press)

2010, Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.) and Douglas Century, If Not Now, When? (Berkley Caliber 2008)

2009, Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (Knopf 2008)

2009, Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor (Little, Brown and Company, 2007)

2008, R. Alan King, Twice Armed: An American Soldier’s Battle for Hearts and Minds in Iraq (Zenith Press 2006)

2007, Ian W. Toll, Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy (W.W. Norton & Company 2006)

2007, John A Glusman, Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese 1941-1945 (Viking 2005)

2006, Kevin J. Weddle, Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral: The Life of Samuel Francis Du Pont (University of Virginia Press 2005);

2006, Nathaniel Fick, One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer (Houghton-Mifflin 2005)

2005, Jon Meacham, Franklin and Winston: An Epic Story of an Intimate Friendship (Random House)

2005, MG Sid Shachnow, USA (Ret.) and Jann Robbins, Hope and Honor (Forge Books)

2004, Bing West and Major General Ray L. Smith, USMC (Ret.), The March Up (Bantam)

2004, Robert L. Bateman, No Gun Ri (Stackpole)

2003, Bryan Mark Rigg, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers (University Press of Kansas)

2002, Patrick K. O’Donnell, Beyond Valor (The Free Press)

2002, Ralph Wetterhahn, The Last Battle (Avalon Publishing)

2001, James Bradley with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers (Bantam)

2000, B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley, Stolen Valor (Verity Press)

1999, Fred Chiaventone, A Road We Do Not Know (Simon & Schuster)

1999, Bill Harlow, Circle William (Scribner)

The Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium was originally conceived by former Norwich president MG Russell Todd ’50, USA (Ret.) as a way to bring influential writers to the campus of Norwich University. In 1996, Norwich hosted a small, prestigious group of writers on campus for a two-day series of lectures and panel discussions. Among them was ambassador and former C.I.A. Director William E. Colby, prolific military fiction writer W.E.B. Griffin, military historian and biographer Carlo D’Este ’58, and Philip Caputo, Vietnam memoirist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. The event was initially known as the Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium.

William Colby died unexpectedly shortly after that first event, prompting the university to rename the experimental program the William E. Colby Writers’ Symposium in April 1997 to honor the Norwich honorary degree recipient. In 2019, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the program during Norwich’s bicentennial year, the program reclaimed its original name. Now a program of the Peace and War Center, the symposium and the William E. Colby Award hold a unique place among Norwich’s most celebrated annual traditions.

Since 1996, the symposium has grown to the national prominence it enjoys today, hosting hundreds of military writers, historians, and biographers, and confronting difficult and important issues central to the public’s understanding. Once a single event, the program has evolved to year-round experiences to expand students’ experiential learning.

The symposium is the only program of its kind in existence at an American university. It has brought some of the most prominent military, intelligence, and international affairs writers and historians of our time to central Vermont and Norwich University.

Yes. However, per our guidelines, we do not accept self-nominations. To be eligible, a self-published book must be nominated by someone other than the author. For example, an editor, another author, or subject-matter expert who finds the work worthy may nominate a self-published book.

Yes, if the first-listed author is also the first-time author. 

It would be appreciated but is not required.

Yes, as long as the original publication is the author’s first book-length work.

Yes. A book-length work of poetry, whether a single, long poem or a collection of poems, qualifies for the award.



Norwich University will contact the top finalists around late spring. Unfortunately, we are not able to individually contact nominees who have not advanced to the later rounds of review.

The Colby Award includes a two-step review process. In the first round, a team of volunteer reviewers reads all eligible submissions. In the second round, the top five finalists move on to our selection committee, made up of six former Colby Award winners and chaired by noted historian and New York Times–best-selling author, Alex Kershaw. The selection committee chooses the winning title.

Yes. The Colby Award recipient must be present at the Military Writers’ Symposium at Norwich University and participate in an appearance at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago based upon the author’s schedule.