NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University officials announced that World War II historian and bestselling author Alex Kershaw, H’19, will become chair of the selection committee for the annual William E. Colby Award, a three-year appointment.

Kershaw succeeds Carlo D’Este, a 1958 Norwich University graduate who became a decorated U.S. Army colonel, a renowned military historian and co-founder of Norwich University’s Military Writers’ Symposium. D’Este, who also served as chair of the William E. Colby Award selection committee, died in November 2020 at age 84.

Alex Kershaw, a British-born journalist and public speaker, has authored 10 books, including the New York Times bestsellers, “The Bedford Boys,” “The Longest Winter” and “Avenue of Spies.” He worked as a journalist for The Guardian and other newspapers before moving to the United States in 1994. His latest book is “The First Wave,” a national bestseller published in May 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

“We are thrilled that Alex Kershaw continues his partnership with Norwich in this significant leadership role.” Dr. Travis Morris, director, John and Mary France Patton Peace and War Center

Kershaw graduated from University College, Oxford, and has an honorary doctorate in military history from Norwich University, for which he penned the bicentennial history, “Citizens and Soldiers.” He is a board director of Friends of the National World War II Memorial.

Kershaw lives in Savannah, Georgia, and regularly leads battlefield tours and lectures on World War II. His 2012 book “The Liberator” was made into a drama series aired by Netflix in 2020.

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Adam Higginbotham won the 2020 William E. Colby Awardfor his book, “Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster.”

“I'm very honored and extremely excited to be working with Norwich again,” Kershaw said. “It's a great privilege to help discover and then truly promote great new writers who are telling powerful and important stories.”

As award selection committee chair, Kershaw will lead the selection process, attend the Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium and engage with authors, professors and students and the Norwich University community at large.

The John and Mary Frances Patton Peace and War Center sponsors the Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium.

“We are thrilled that Alex Kershaw continues his partnership with Norwich in this significant leadership role,” Peace and War Center Director Dr. Travis Morris said. “He is a world-renowned author who also possesses a deep knowledge of Norwich’s history and identity. The Colby Award grew in prominence under Carlo’s leadership and we look forward to continuing that trajectory with Alex at the helm. We are truly honored and I look forward to working with him.”

Award origins

The Colby Award, named for the late ambassador and former CIA director William E. Colby, began at Norwich University in 1999. Previous Colby Award recipients include Paul Scharre, Nisid Hajari, Thomas McKenna, James Bradley, Nathaniel Fick, Jack Jacobs, Dexter Filkins, Marcus Luttrell, John Glusman, Karl Marlantes and Steven Sodergren.

Adam Higginbotham won the 2020 William E. Colby Award for his book, “Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster.” Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, presents the award, now in its 22nd year, annually to a first solo work of fiction or nonfiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations or international affairs.

Colby Award winners receive a $5,000 author honorarium provided through the generosity of the Chicago-based Pritzker Military Foundation, on behalf of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. The award and honorarium are presented annually at Norwich University during the Norwich University Military Writers’ Symposium, in Northfield, Vermont.

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About the Pritzker Military Museum & Library
The Pritzker Military Museum & Library is open to the public and features an extensive collection of books, artifacts, and rotating exhibits covering many eras and branches of the military. From its founding in 2003, it is a center where citizens and soldiers come together to learn about military history and the role of the military in a democracy. The Museum & Library is a non-partisan, non-government information center supported by its members and sponsors. 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 significant contribution to the understanding of military history including military affairs.

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. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

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