Ontario-born historian Andrew Preston was recently named the 2013 winner of the Charles Taylor Prize for his book, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy, an account of how religion has impacted American foreign relations and diplomatic policy.

The author, who currently teaches U.S. history and international relations at Cambridge University, captured the honour in Toronto on March 3, taking home the $25,000 prize.

Kobo had a chance to catch up with Preston to discuss the book – which took nine years to write! – and how he began working on the complex question of religion in U.S. politics on the eve of the second Iraq war when he found himself unable to answer student’s questions about its religious roots.