Photo: Portrait of Steven E. Sodergren

For the first time in two decades, the Colby Award goes to a Norwich author.

Steven E. Sodergren has won the 2018 William E. Colby Award for his book, “The Army of the Potomac in the Overland & Petersburg Campaigns” (LSU Press, 2017). Now in its 19th year, the Colby prize is awarded annually by Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., to a first solo work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations or international affairs.

Sodergren, the first Norwich University author to receive the award, is associate professor of history at Norwich University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas; serves as program coordinator of the Studies in War and Peace degree program at Norwich; and serves on the Advisory Board for Norwich’s Peace and War Center at (PaWC).

“I am so pleased that my work has been recognized in a such a manner, and I extend my thanks to the Pritzker Military Foundation and the Colby Award Selection Committee for this great honor,” Sodergren said. “I also wish to extend my thanks to the faculty, staff, and students of Norwich University for their support as I pursued the research for this project.”

Sodergren explores the many factors that enabled the Army of the Potomac to endure the brutal physical conditions of trench warfare and emerge with a renewed sense of purpose as fighting resumed on the open battlefield in 1865. Drawing from soldiers’ letters and diaries, official military correspondence, and court-martial records, he paints a vivid picture of the daily lives of Union soldiers as they witnessed the beginnings of a profound shift in the way the world imagined and waged large-scale warfare.

The final year of the Civil War witnessed a profound transformation in the practice of modern warfare, a shift that produced unprecedented consequences for the soldiers fighting on the front lines. In “The Army of the Potomac in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns,” Sodergren examines the transition to trench warfare, the lengthy campaigns of attrition that resulted, and how these seemingly grim new realities affected the mindset and morale of Union soldiers.

“Steven E. Sodergren’s elegantly written, superbly researched and often gut-wrenching account of what the Union soldiers of the Army of the Potomac endured in 1864-1865 in Virginia has earned the author a place among the finest writers of the Civil War,” Carlo D’Este, Colby Symposium co-founder said. “This book is history at its very best. We congratulate Prof. Sodergren as the recipient of the 2018 Colby Award.”

Winners of the Colby Award receive a $5,000 author honorarium provided through the generosity of the Chicago-based Pritzker Military Foundation. The award and honorarium will be presented to Sodergren at Norwich University during a special fall presentation of the Colby Award, October 3-4, 2018. The award was announced at the 2018 William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium on April 12, 2018. Visit for information.

Finalists for the 2018 Colby Award included: “Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier’s Story” by Jon Kerstetter (Crown/Penguin Random House, 2017); “Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield” by Robert H. Latiff (Knopf/Penguin Random House, 2017); “Spoils: A Novel” by Brian Van Reet (Lee Boudreaux Books/ Little Brown, 2017); “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961” by Nicholas Reynolds (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2017).

Named for the late ambassador and former CIA director William E. Colby, the Colby Award recognizes a first solo work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the public’s understanding of intelligence operations, military history or international affairs. The William E. Colby Award began at Norwich University in 1999.

Previous recipients of the Colby Award include Nisid Hajari, Thomas McKenna, James Bradley, Nathaniel Fick, Jack Jacobs, Dexter Filkins, Marcus Luttrell, John Glusman, Karl Marlantes, and Logan Beirne.

Colby Award Selection Committee:

  • William E. Butterworth, III is the author of more than 150 books, most notably the W. E. B. Griffin novels, and more than 50 New York Times bestsellers. He is the co-founder of the William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium.
  • Karl Marlantes is the author of “Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War,” a New York Times Top 10 Bestseller, and “What It Is Like To Go To War.” He is a 2011 Colby Award recipient.
  • Jerry Morelock is a prize-winning military historian whose numerous publications include his latest book, “Generals of the Bulge: Leadership in the U.S. Army’s Greatest Battle.”
  • John A. Glusman is vice president and editor-in-chief of W. W. Norton and Company, the largest independent, employee-owned publisher in the U.S. He is the 2007 Colby Award recipient for “Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941-1945.”
  • Frederick J. Chiaventone, a retired cavalry officer, is a novelist, screenwriter, and military historian. His novel “A Road We Do Not Know: A Novel of Custer at the Little Bighorn” won the 1999 inaugural Colby Award. His work has also won the Western Heritage and William Rockhill Nelson Awards and has been nominated for a Pulitzer.
  • Carlo D’Este is a renowned military historian and biographer, and the 2011 recipient of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. He is the co-founder of the William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium.

About the Pritzker Military Museum & Library

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library is located in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Open to the public, the Museum & Library features an extensive collection of books, programs, artifacts, and rotating exhibits covering many eras and branches of the military that are available to visitors in person and online at Opened in 2003, the Museum & Library is a center where citizens and service members come together to learn about military history and affairs. Each year, the Museum & Library awards the prestigious Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing to recognize a living author who has made a lifetime contribution to the understanding of military history affairs. The Museum & Library is a living memorial to current and former service members and their families that is supported by its members and sponsors.

About Norwich University

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). 

Norwich will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders, Norwich launched the Forging the Future campaign in 2014. The five-year campaign, which is timed to culminate in 2019, is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities and is designed to enhance the university’s strong position as it steps into its third century of service to the nation.

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