Clark professor’s landmark work named history book of the year

billias book 1Historian, author and Clark University Professor Emeritus George Athan Billias, of Worcester, will receive the James P. Hanlan Book Award from the New England Historical Association during the NEHA fall conference at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, on Oct. 16.

The award is given annually to a New England author of a book on any historical topic. “American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776-1989: A Global Perspective,” the latest work by Billias, was published by New York University Press in 2009 and garnered enthusiastic response from scholars in the field. The annual award is named in honor of James P. Hanlan, professor of Humanities & Arts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Hanlan received his master’s degree and Ph.D. at Clark University.

As the publisher states, “American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World” reveals the “spread of American constitutionalism—from Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean region, to Asia and Africa—beginning with the American Revolution and the fateful ‘shot heard round the world’ and ending with the conclusion of the Cold War in 1989. The American model contributed significantly by spearheading the drive to greater democracy throughout the Western world, and Billias’s landmark study tells a story that will change the way readers view the important role American constitutionalism played during this era.” Harvard University historian David Armitage calls the book “a heroic endeavor whose results will be debated and plundered by generations of scholars to come, and whose impact on a wider audience may help to encourage a broader consciousness of America’s more benign contributions to shaping the contemporary world.”

"The American model contributed significantly by spearheading the drive to greater democracy throughout the Western world, and Billias’s landmark study tells a story that will change the way readers view the important role American constitutionalism played during this era.”

Among Billias’s many other books are “American Constitutionalism Abroad,” “George Washington’s Generals and Opponents,” and “Elbridge Gerry: Founding Father and Republican Statesman.”

Billias served as a professor of American history at Clark from 1962-1983. In 1983, he was named the Jacob and Frances Hiatt Professor of American History. He is currently professor emeritus. The George Athan and Margaret Rose Billias Endowed Scholarship Fund, established in 2001, supports outstanding students (generally of American history or American literature) who are deserving of financial aid.

Billias received his B.A. from Bates College in 1948 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1958.He served as a military historian for the U.S. Air Force and as a medical administrative officer during World War II. Billias received the Bronze Star for gallantry in evacuating wounded from the Remagen bridgehead in Germany.

The New England Historical Association (NEHA) is a regional branch of the American Historical Association and includes some 800 scholars working in all branches of history. Formed in 1965, its purpose is to promote scholarly interchange and to enhance teaching and scholarship in history. While most of its members are college and university faculty, its active participants also include independent scholars, preservationists and museum-based scholars, historical society administrators, and secondary school faculty.

Since its founding in 1887, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has a history of challenging convention. As an innovative liberal arts college and research university, Clark’s world-class faculty lead a community of creative thinkers and passionate doers and offer a range of expertise, particularly in the areas of psychology, geography, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. Clark’s students, faculty and alumni embody the Clark motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. www.clarku.edu

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