Ron Chernow (1970) awarded National Humanities Medal

by Sally March

Distinguished author and historian Ron Chernow has been announced as one of twelve recipients of the 2015 National Humanities Medal, which is awarded annually by the US National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mr Chernow will be presented with his medal by President Barack Obama at a ceremony at the White House on Thursday 22 September 2016.

The citation for Mr Chernow’s reads: “For bringing our Nation’s story to life. Through his examination of America’s successful giants and titans, he also invites his readers to discover their failures and foibles, uncovering enduring lessons that inform our modern era.”

The Master of Pembroke, Lord Smith, congratulated Mr Chernow on the award, “Pembroke is truly proud to count Ron Chernow as one of our alumni. His works of biography are outstanding, and this Medal is a worthy tribute to the significance and impact of his work.”

Inaugurated in 1997, the National Humanities Medal is given to “individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broadened our [American] citizens’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.

Mr Chernow has written a number of biographies on notable figures in American history and business, including John D Rockefeller, The Warburg Family and the rise of the J P Morgan financial empire. His 2011 book Washington: A Life was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for biography and the American History Book Prize. He has also acted as a historical consultant on the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, which Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired to write after reading Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers and first Secretary of the US Treasury. Mr Chernow’s current project is currently working on a biography of Ulysses S Grant, Civil War general and 18th President of the United States.

Mr Chernow read English at Pembroke after graduating from Yale in 1970.


Images care of the National Endowment for the Humanities

Official announcement: