Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute have announced that the 2011 Lincoln Prize will be awarded to Eric Foner for his book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. Foner, a named professor at Columbia University, has written several books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, including a couple of well-regarded volumes on Reconstruction.
Perhaps just as interesting as this award was the committee's decision to class all of the six other finalists with Honorable Mention status.
Though I have not yet read Foner's book, I imagine that it offers something recently lacking in books about Lincoln's views on race and slavery: a sophisticated consideration of a very complicated subject. Too often, Lincoln's words are judged by today's standards and understandings of race, which usually lead to unnecessarily harsh condemnation or a complete misunderstanding of the context in which they were made.
The Lincoln Prize will be awarded to Foner on May 11.