David J. Barron Wins Award for Best Military Book


Feb. 14, 2017

Norwich University has awarded its annual book prize to David J. Barron for his history of the clash between presidents and Congress over the power to wage war.

David J. Barron has won the 2017 William E. Colby Award for his book, “Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress, 1776 to ISIS.” Now in its 18th 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.

Barron is a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and former S. William Green Professor of Public Law at Harvard Law School. He previously served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel at the United States Department of Justice. He is co-author, with Martin Lederman, of the article “The Commander in Chief at the Lowest Ebb.” “Waging War,” is his first solo book.

Barron’s professional and legal expertise and perspective make his book on executive power vs. Congress and the nation’s constitutional system compelling and timely.

The Washington Post described “Waging War” as such: “Ambitious…a deep history and a thoughtful inquiry into how the constitutional system of checks and balances has functioned when it comes to waging war and making peace.”

“I am so pleased to receive the Colby award,” Barron said. “William Colby’s own life exemplifies what I hope ‘Waging War’ shows — that the executive branch honors our constitutional tradition not only by challenging Congress but also by respecting it.”

“Waging War” details the history of the ongoing struggle between U.S. presidents and Congress over who has the power to declare and wage war, beginning with George Washington and the Continental Congress and continuing through current-day conflicts described as the Global War on Terror.

“David Barron is a distinguished jurist, “says Carlo D’Este, Colby Symposium executive director. “His superbly researched and wonderfully told history of the clash between presidents and Congress throughout the history of our nation is an outstanding literary achievement and a worthy winner of the 2017 Colby Award.”

Winners of the Colby Award receive a $5,000 author honorarium provided through the generosity of the Chicago-based TAWANI Foundation.  The award and honorarium will be presented to Barron at Norwich University during the 2017 William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium at the “Meet the Authors” Dinner on April 13, 2017. The 2017 Symposium will take place April 12-13, and includes a panel discussion and book signing. The symposium is open to the public, but some events require tickets. Visit Colby.norwich.edu for information.

Finalists for the 2017 Colby Award included “The Brave Ones:  A Memoir of Hope, Pride, and Military Service” by Michael MacLeod; “The Great War of Our Time” by Michael Morell; and “This Brave New World” by Anja Manuel.

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 and the executive director of the William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium.

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 pritzkermilitary.org. 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.

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). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Norwich University will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Leadership” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu.    

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Editor’s note: The above photo of David J. Barron is courtesy of Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard University.