Colorado State University - Pueblo faculty member is finalist for Colorado Book Award

Colorado State University - Pueblo faculty member is finalist for Colorado Book Award

PUEBLO – A collection of thought-provoking essays about Zebulon Pike and Thomas Jefferson, edited by a history faculty member at Colorado State University-Pueblo, is a finalist for the Colorado Book Award presented by Colorado Humanities. The annual program celebrates the accomplishments of Colorado's outstanding authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers. Awards are presented in at least 10 categories including anthology, biography, children's, creative nonfiction, fiction, history, nonfiction, pictorial, poetry, and young adult.

Zebulon Pike, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the West,  edited by CSU-Pueblo Associate Professor and History Department Chair Matt Harris (with Jay H. Buckley, University of Oklahoma Press),  is among 37 total finalists and one of three in the Anthology category. The other two Anthology finalists are Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined edited by Andrea L. Watson and Madelyn Garner , and Reclaiming School in the Aftermath of Trauma by Carolyn Lunsford Mears (Palgrave Macmillian). The 2013 award event will be held  from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 2013 at Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival in Aspen.

Dr. Harris’s book focuses on the explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike and his role in building Thomas Jefferson’s “empire of liberty.”  Harris demonstrates that this ambitious young military officer and explorer, best known for a mountain peak he neither scaled nor named, was destined to live in the shadows of more famous contemporaries—explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. This collection of provocative essays rescues Pike from his undeserved obscurity by providing a nuanced assessment of him within the larger context of American imperial ambition at the time of Jefferson.  Pike’s accomplishments as an explorer, mapmaker, and soldier during the War of 1812 has been tainted by his alleged connection to Aaron Burr’s conspiracy to separate the trans-Appalachian region from the United States.  For 200 years, historians have debated whether Pike was an explorer or a spy, whether he knew about the Burr Conspiracy or was just a loyal foot soldier. This book moves beyond that controversy to offer new scholarly perspectives on Pike’s career.

The Colorado Book Awards began in 1991 with the first awards presented in 1992 in four categories-Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry, and Children's. In 1993, Young Adult was added as a category. Since then, the Colorado Center for the Book (a program department of the Colorado Humanities since April 2004) has amended categories depending on the number and kind of books nominated. The Colorado Book Award has celebrated Colorado's most noted authors,

including John Fielder, Linda Hogan, Jon Krakauer, Kent Haruf, Margaret Coel, Tom Noel, Stephanie Kane, Avi, Bruce Ducker, David Milofsky, Joanne Greenberg, T.A. Barron, and many others. Awards are presented each year to books published in the previous year.

For more information on the Colorado Book Awards, visit

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.