Wilfred M. McClay’s Land of Hope wins Conservative Book of the Year!

On March 28, historian will receive $10,000 prize for his masterful look at the “great American story”


January 22, 2020

Wilmington, DE – The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), an organization that teaches college students core conservative principles, today announced the winner of the 2020 Conservative Book of the Year award: historian Wilfred M. McClay’s Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story.

This annual award recognizes a thoughtful book that contributes to the rich debate about important conservative ideas.

An outside panel of eight judges—including bestselling authors Amity Shlaes and Angelo Codevilla—chose McClay’s book from among six outstanding finalists. McClay will be honored at ISI’s Conservative Book of the Year award dinner on March 28 in St. Louis. He will receive ISI’s Paolucci Book Award as well as a $10,000 cash prize.

ISI president Charlie Copeland said: “The Conservative Book of the Year judges have made a fine choice. Land of Hope is the antidote to anti-American narratives like Howard Zinn’s influential A People’s History of the United States. But that does not mean McClay’s book offers its own propaganda to counter Zinn’s. Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal may have said it best when he called Land of Hope ‘the most balanced, nuanced history of the United States I have read in the past fifty years.’ The message in Land of Hope is exactly what our divided country needs.”

Copeland added: “The Conservative Book of the Year award is especially important now. Conservatives are being ‘de-platformed’ everywhere, from college campuses to Twitter. And mainstream book awards like the Pulitzer and the National Book Award might as well post signs that say, ‘NO CONSERVATIVES NEED APPLY.’ In such a heated climate, it is crucial to celebrate thoughtful conservatives like Professor McClay for their outstanding work.”

ISI received more than 130 nominations for the 2020 Conservative Book of the Year award. In addition to McClay’s book, the finalists for the award included:

  • Timothy P. Carney, Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse
  • Samuel Gregg, Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization
  • Ted V. McAllister and Bruce Frohnen, Coming Home: Reclaiming America’s Conservative Soul
  • Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity
  • George F. Will, The Conservative Sensibility

The Conservative Book of the Year award has been in place for well over a decade. Notable past winners include Yoram Hazony’s The Virtue of Nationalism, Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option, Bradley J. Birzer’s Russell Kirk: American Conservative, and Richard Brookhiser’s Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln.

For more information, or to reserve your seat at the Conservative Book of the Year award dinner on March 28, please visit bookaward.isi.org.


About the Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute inspires college students to discover, embrace, and advance the principles and virtues that make America free and prosperous. Most thoughtful college students are sick of getting a shallow education in which too many viewpoints are shut out. ISI teaches them the principles of liberty and plugs them into a vibrant intellectual community so that they get the collegiate experience they hunger for. ISI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. For more information, visit isi.org.