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History professor is a finalist for LA Times Book Prize

Andrew Wehrman’s book is one of five finalists in the history category

| Author: Sarah Buckley | Media Contact: Sarah Buckley

History faculty member Andrew Wehrman’s book The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution is one of five finalists in the history category for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Wehrman will attend the awards ceremony in Los Angeles April 21 and will appear with the other finalists at the LA Festival of Books.

Published in December by Johns Hopkins University Press and the result of more than a decade of research, Wehrman’s book offers a timely and fascinating account of the raucous public demand for smallpox inoculation during the American Revolution and the origin of vaccination in the United States. A key chapter in the book is George Washington’s decision to inoculate the Continental Army, which came as a result of this bottom-up pressure from colonists for access to inoculation. 

The Contagion of Liberty has been reviewed by The Wall Street JournalThe LancetNature, and The American Journal of Public Health. It was also named one of the best books on public health published in 2022 by Harvard Public Health.

In Los Angeles, Wehrman will attend the Book Prize ceremony at the historic Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California. He will also participate in the L. A. Festival of Books on Saturday, April 22, and will appear for a panel discussion entitled “How Science Guides Us” hosted by Leslie Mullen, the writer and host of NASA’s “On the Mission” podcast and alongside science author and documentarian Dan Levitt.

“Being nominated for an LA Times Book Prize was a complete surprise and a true honor,” Wehrman said. “It’s not only of the most prestigious prizes for authors and historians, but it is also an award that tends to recognize scholars doing innovative work that connects the past to the present.”