British historians shortlisted for Cundill History Prize

British historians shortlisted for Cundill History Prize

British historians make up half the shortlist for the Cundill History Prize 2019. 

The eight-strong shortlist for the $75,000 prize is open to English language books from around the world, regardless of nationality of place of residence. Two UK publishers, Allen Lane and Oxford University Press, feature with two titles each.

Helen Berry, professor of British History at Newcastle University, is nominated for Orphans of Empire: The Fate of London’s Foundlings (OUP), the 2019 Wolfson History Prize winner Mary Fulbrook for Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice (OUP), Toby Green of King’s College London for A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (Allen Lane), and Julia Lovell, professor of Modern China at Birkbeck, University of London, for Maoism: A Global History (Bodley Head).

Historian Sunil Amrith’s Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia’s History (Basic Books), Frederick Douglass: American Prophet (Simon & Schuster) by Pulitzer Prize winner David Blight, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic (Liveright) by Pultizer finalist Victoria Johnson and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore’s These Truths: A History of the United States (W W Norton) make up the shortlist. 

Juror Charlotte Gray said: “Selecting a handful of books for the shortlist from the many excellent titles submitted was a challenge, as we balanced vibrancy of prose against depth of research, global perspectives against hidden lives. But two themes stood out for me in our selections. The first is the originality of the approaches each author took, and their collective eagerness to widen our lens on the past. The second is the contemporary resonance of the stories told and the analyses presented — proving, once again, that today has been irrevocably shaped by yesterday.”

The shortlist was announced at a ceremony in New York last night (19th September). The winner will be announced in Montreal on 14th November.