Craig L. Symonds is Professor Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy where he taught naval history and Civil War History for thirty years.
A native of Anaheim, California, Symonds earned his B.A. degree at U.C.L.A., and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Florida where he studied under the late John K. Mahon. In the 1970s he was a U.S. Navy officer and the first ensign ever to lecture at the prestigious Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. After his naval service, Symonds remained at the War College as a civilian Professor of Strategy from 1974-1975.
He came to the Naval Academy in 1976, and during his thirty-year career there he became a very popular professor whose Civil War classes were always over-subscribed. He was named teacher of the Year in 1988, and the Researcher of the Year in 1998, the first person ever to win both awards. He chaired the History Department from 1988 to 1992. He also chaired the Naval Academy Self Study for institutional accreditation, the Curriculum Reform Committee, and served on the Naval Academy Admissions Board. In addition to the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, he was awarded the Civilian Meritorious Service Medal three times. From 1994 to 1995 he served as Professor of Strategy and Policy at the Britannia Naval College in Dartmouth, England.
Symonds is the author of twelve books and the editor of nine others. In addition he has written over one hundred scholarly articles in professional journals and popular magazines as well as more than twenty book chapters in historical anthologies. Five of his books were selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and six have been selections of the History Book Club. His books have won the Barondess Lincoln Prize, the Daniel and Marilyn Laney Prize, the S.A. Cunningham Award, the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Prize, and the John Lyman book Prize three times. In 2009 he shared the $50,000 Lincoln Prize with James M. McPherson. He also won the "Annie" Award in Literary Arts given by Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Symonds was a Trustee of the Society of Military History, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Lincoln Forum, and the board of Directors of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation. He was a member of the Lincoln Prize Committee and chaired the Jefferson Davis Prize Committee. He is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee. From 2005 to 1007 he was Chief Historian of the USS Monitor Center at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, helping oversee the opening and promotion of that exhibit.
Now retired, Symonds is much in demand around the country as a speaker on Civil War subjects. He has spoken at Civil War Round Tables in twenty-seven states and two foreign countries, given tours of battlefields and other historical sites, and helped conduct leadership workshops based on the life of Abraham Lincoln. Craig and his wife, Marylou, live in Annapolis, Maryland.