Anna Bowers · July 10, 2019
Written by Southern Virginia University Visiting Professor of History Dr. David Cox, “Lee Chapel at 150,” earned the Silver Medal for Best Regional Non-Fiction Book for the Year in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
“Lee Chapel at 150” is Dr. Cox’s second book to receive recognition for examining the life of historical figure General Robert E. Lee. His previous work, “The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee,” earned national acclaim and is considered the first in-depth analysis of the role that faith played in shaping Lee’s life.
Since 2006, Dr. Cox has been teaching courses at Southern Virginia in liberal arts and history focusing on American and religious studies. He serves as the faculty advisor for the University’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta—a history honor society—and was named “2018 Professor of the Year” by Southern Virginia’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi—the nation’s oldest honor society for all academic disciplines.
Published in 2018, “Lee Chapel at 150” is a sesquicentennial history of the chapel Lee had constructed at Washington and Lee University—located just seven miles from Southern Virginia. The book took Dr. Cox over three years to write, and then six weeks for local publishing agency Mariner Media to complete the publishing process—a fraction of the time typically required for similar works—in honor of the chapel’s 150th anniversary.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that Dr. Cox completed his book in six weeks. His work on the book took over three years and Mariner Media completed the publishing in six weeks.
Published on Wed, 06/12/2019 – 12:21pm
The book on Lee Chapel by David Cox and published by Mariner Publishing in Buena Vista has earned the Silver Medal for Best Regional Non-Fiction Book of the Year in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
The awards were announced at the Book Expo in New York City on May 28. The “IPPY” Awards are the world’s largest competitive awards program for university presses and independent publishers.
“Lee Chapel at 150” was published last year in time for the 150th anniversary of the chapel.
Andy Wolfe, the president and creative director of Mariner Publishing, said, “This is an award for general excellence and everyone who worked on this book should be very proud.”
“Lee Chapel at 150” was produced with the full cooperation of the university staff, but it is not an official history produced on behalf of the school.
Wolfe said, “David and I had talked about a book on the chapel’s history for several years. Then at the end of 2017, Lucy Wilkins, director of university collections and manager of Lee Chapel and Museum, presented Mariner with the opportunity to publish a book, outlined by Cox, about the history Lee Chapel, and we accepted the challenge on a very tight timeline, knowing Mariner would be the primary underwriter for the book.
“The publication work on this book began before the book’s manuscript was even close to completion,” continued Wolfe. “Everyone worked in a well-choreographed motion: the author, David Cox; the editors, Judy Rogers and Lisa Tracy; the designers Karen Bowen and Emilie Davis; the illustrator Bruce Macdonald; and, of special note, Byron Faidley, who coordinated the assembly of countless images to support the narrative from W&L Special Collections and the Lee Chapel Museum.”
A book of this caliber normally takes at least six months to construct, after the manuscript is accepted, he said… This book was created in six weeks. “It was quite intense, but the entire crew remained focused and on task.”
This is the second book David Cox has written where Robert E. Lee is at the center of the story. His first book, The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee, was the first close examination of how Robert E. Lee’s faith shaped his life. It was nationally acclaimed.
Lee Chapel at 150 begins in September 1865, five months after the surrender at Appomattox that effectively ended the Civil War, when Robert E. Lee came to Lexington, to begin a new life, to rebuild Washington College, and to restore what peace and prosperity he could to a nation devastated by the most brutal conflict in its history. After one year, Lee had succeeded so well on his first two goals that, regarding the second, the college quickly outgrew its facilities. He called for a new chapel large enough to allow the growing student body and faculty to meet together for religious and academic gatherings.
By June 1868, the Chapel was finished. Two years later, Lee died. He was interred in that building. At the same time, the college renamed itself Washington and Lee University.
Over the 150 years of its existence, the association between Lee, a polarizing figure of deep Christian conviction, and the structure he was responsible for creating made it more than another college building. It has been used for many purposes: a place for celebrations, lectures, and academic assemblies; a mausoleum, shrine, museum, and even a place of pilgrimage. For some, it is the “heart” of the university.
This is its story.
This award is the third Non-Fiction IPPY earned by Mariner Publishing since 2009. Wolfe said, “In the big scheme of things, we are a very, very little fish in the publishing world. I’m thrilled for my crew, for David Cox and for Washington and Lee University that we have garnered more than our fair share of recognition for excellence in non-fiction publishing.”
The book can be purchased at the Lee Chapel Museum Store.