Two British historians among finalists for $75k Cundill History Prize

Two British historians among finalists for $75k Cundill History Prize

The $75,000 Cundill History Prize – the largest prize for a work of non-fiction in English, open to publishers worldwide – has announced three "outstanding" women as its finalists for 2019, two of whom are British.

"Exceptional" works of history by British historians Mary Fulbrook, 2019's Wolfson History Prize winner and UCL professor of German History, and Julia Lovell, professor of Modern China at Birkbeck College, on Nazi persecution and Maoism, will compete for the grand prize, alongside a US history from Harvard Professor and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore.

The shortlist for the prize comprises three sweeping histories of major historical significance.

Fulbrook is in the running for Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice (Oxford University Press) which explores both the lives of the victims and the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Lovell competes with Maoism: A Global History (published in the UK by The Bodley Head and in the US by Knopf), investigating Mao’s impact on China and the world at a time when understanding where today’s China comes from is particularly crucial.

And Lepore is recognised for These Truths: A History of the United States (W W Norton), an ambitious American history, from Columbus to Trump, praised for coming to a well-known story "from completely new, original angles".

Each of the three historians, now vying for the $75,000 grand prize, will be awarded $10,000 as shortlistees. The winner's announcement will be made on 14th November at the Cundill History Prize Gala at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Historian Alan Taylor is chair of the prize jury, which also comprises Harvard professor Jane Kamensky, University College Dublin's professor of history Robert Gerwarth, Canadian author Charlotte Gray and the director of Oxford University’s China Centre Rana Mitter. Taylor ommented: "The finalists for the Cundill History Prize have written three exceptional works of history. Fulbrook’s Reckonings, Lepore’s These Truths, and Lovell’s Maoism are deeply researched and rich in insights. They take on difficult and ambitious topics with an impressive commitment to moral inquiry and humane values. Their literary quality will enable the authors to introduce new findings to a very broad readership."

Antonia Maioni, dean of the Faculty of Arts at McGill University, added: "Written by three outstanding women, these are sweeping histories of major historical significance, addressing political movements which radically shaped our past and are resurgent at a time of contemporary political upheaval. The three finalists are essential reading for everyone if we are to take lessons from the past which can help shape a stable, positive future. The Cundill History Prize honours each of these books and in doing so fulfils the vision of our founder Peter F Cundill in bringing great works of historical research to a global general readership."