Conservative Book of the Year Award

ISI’s Conservative Book of the Year award recognizes thoughtful books that contribute to the rich debate about important conservative ideas. The winner receives a $10,000 cash prize along with ISI’s Paolucci Book Award.

And the finalists for this year’s award are . . .

Here are the 6 finalists!

ISI has announced six finalists for the prestigious Conservative Book of the Year award:

  • Christopher Caldwell, The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties (Simon & Schuster)
  • Ross Douthat, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success (Avid Reader Press)  
  • Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents (Sentinel)
  • Yuval Levin, A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream (Basic Books)
  • Robert R. Reilly, America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding (Ignatius Press)
  • Bradley C. S. Watson, Progressivism: The Strange History of a Radical Idea (University of Notre Dame Press)

“The conservative intellectual movement is more exciting than it’s been in a generation,” said John A. Burtka, IV, president of ISI. “These finalists for the Conservative Book of the Year award reflect—and advance—the important debates happening right now. I congratulate all six finalists on their exceptional work.

“This award is all the more important because mainstream book honors like the Pulitzer and National Book Award often shut out conservative authors,” Burtka continued. “At ISI, we celebrate these thinkers and honor their commitment to thoughtfully advancing conservative principles in today’s heated political and social climate.”

The winner of the Conservative Book of the Year award will be announced in late January 2021 and will be honored at ISI’s annual Conservative Book of the Year award dinner on June 26 in Wilmington, Delaware. The winning author will receive ISI’s Paolucci Book Award, in addition to a $10,000 cash prize.

This marks the second time Rod Dreher has been a finalist for Conservative Book of the Year. His book The Benedict Option won the 2018 award. 

Yuval Levin makes his third appearance as a finalist for Conservative Book of the Year. He was named a finalist in 2014 for The Great Debate and in 2018 for The Fractured Republic.


Who do you think should win ISI’s 2021 Conservative Book of the Year award?


The Award

ISI honors the Conservative Book of the Year with the Paolucci Book Award. The award is named in memory of Henry and Anne Paolucci, distinguished scholars, teachers, and writers who exemplified the ideal of the public intellectual.
The award winner’s lecture is routinely aired on C-SPAN’s Book TV. See links below for previous broadcasts. Past winners of the award include:

Award Requirements

To be considered for the Conservative Book of the Year award, a book must:

  • Be a work of nonfiction that was first published in, and carries a copyright date of, 2020
  • Advance our understanding of conservative principles
  • Make an outstanding contribution to the literature of the subject
  • Avoid factional or partisan argumentation

About Henry and Anne Paolucci

Henry Paolucci
Henry Paolucci, PhD (1922–1999)

Henry Paolucci was a prolific scholar of classical politics and literature. He was a professor of government and politics at St. John’s University and also taught ancient Greek and Roman history at Iona College, Brooklyn College, and the City College of New York, as well as a graduate course on Dante and medieval culture at Columbia University. Dr. Paolucci wrote or edited more than 30 books and was a frequent contributor to national magazines and newspapers. He is well known for his studies of the political thought of Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Machiavelli, and Hegel.

The founding president of the Walter Bagehot Council on National Sovereignty, Dr. Paolucci served for many years as vice chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State. In 1964 he ran as the Conservative candidate for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Robert F. Kennedy and the Republican incumbent, Kenneth Keating.

Anne Paolucci
Anne Paolucci, PhD (1926–2012)

Anne Paolucci displayed a wide range of intellectual interests in her long and distinguished scholarly career. Born in Rome, she settled with her family in New York at the age of eight and went on to earn a PhD from Columbia University. Dr. Paolucci taught English at the City College of New York before joining the faculty of St. John’s University as its first University Research Professor. A prolific writer on Renaissance drama, dramatic theory, Hegelian aesthetics, Spenser, Dante, Machiavelli, and classical and Shakespearean tragedy, she was perhaps best known for her work on the plays of Pirandello and of Edward Albee.

Dr. Paolucci was the founding president of the Council on National Literatures. For nearly a decade she served on the National Council on the Humanities, and she became the first woman to chair the Board of ­Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY).