Andrew F. Lang specializes in the history of nineteenth-century America and the U. S. Civil War era. His most recent book, A Contest of Civilizations: Exposing the Crisis of American Exceptionalism in the Civil War Era (2021), is published in University of North Carolina Press’s landmark series, Littlefield History of the Civil War Era. From a field of more than 90 submissions, the book ranked as one of seven finalists for the 2022 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, which stands among the foremost awards in American historical scholarship. The book features diverse casts of nineteenth-century Americans who regarded the United States as the modern world’s pinnacle nation. But the commanding place of slavery within a republic of liberty imposed irreconcilable understandings of American nationhood, informing the causes, conduct, and consequences of the Civil War. Taking seriously how and why nineteenth-century Americans considered their Union as the zenith of modern political enterprises, the book interrogates the complex reasons why Americans waged a civil war over the very existence and meaning of their nation.
The Society of Civil War Historians presented his first book, In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America (2017), with the 2018 Tom Watson Brown Book Award. The prize recognizes “the best book published on the causes, conduct, and effects, broadly defined, of the Civil War,” measured by original scholarship and literary style. More than 50 books competed for this annual award. The book reappraises scholarly assumptions on nineteenth-century American military culture, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the scope of Reconstruction. It reveals contested attitudes on state-sanctioned social and political change and the limits of state power in transitioning from war to peace. The prize committee extolled the book as “one of the very best examples of social-cultural history of the army to be done for the Civil War,” making “good use of cultural, social, and political history, as well as military theory.”
Prof. Lang serves on the Executive Council of the Society of Civil War Historians (SCWH), the field’s flagship professional organization. He also sits on advisory boards of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History (University of Virginia); the American Civil War Museum (Richmond, Virginia); and Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library. He has also served on the editorial board of the Journal of the Civil War Era, the discipline’s leading journal.
He is now working on two book-length projects. The first is an intellectual biography of Abraham Lincoln’s concept of Union and philosophy of history. The second is a narrative history of the relationship between Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.