Clifford, Favereau and Kars named $75k Cundill History Prize finalists

Clifford, Favereau and Kars named $75k Cundill History Prize finalists

Rebecca Clifford, Marie Favereau and Marjoleine Kars have been announced as the 2021 finalists for the $75,000 (£54,500) Cundill History Prize, the highest value non-fiction award in the world.

Jury chair Michael Ignatieff made the announcement as part of a conversation with Margaret MacMillan, hosted by Dan Snow as part of Frankfurt Book Fair. The event was streamed live onto the prize's YouTube channel and the Frankfurt Book Fair website, and simultaneously shown on-site at the fair.

In Survivors: Children’s Lives after the Holocaust (Yale University Press) Clifford studies the child survivors of the Holocaust from 1945 to the present day, using archives and oral interviews to understand how these children recovered from trauma, rebuilt their lives, and sought to recover their terrible past.

Favereau's The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World (Belknap Press) chronicles the 300-year reign of the Mongol Horde and shows how their empire left a lasting trace on the history of Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Kars' Blood on the River: a Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast (The New Press) is the story of a 1763 slave rebellion in Berbice, a Dutch colony in present-day Guyana. Using 18th-century Dutch sources, Kars recounts the rebellion and its bloody suppression from the perspectives of both the Dutch colonists and, uniquely, the slaves themselves.

Ignatieff said: “The 2021 Cundill History Prize finalists are three outstanding works of history. Rebecca Clifford’s Survivors transforms our understanding of historical trauma and its impact on children. Beautifully written, intensively researched, unsentimental and profound, it makes an important contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust and its unending impact on those who survived it.

"Marie Favereau’s The Horde is a vividly written history on a vast canvas that enables us to see the Mongol conquerors of Asia and Europe through the eyes of the Mongols themselves. An amazing picture emerges of a mobile empire whose very flexibility, ability to integrate and work with alien peoples, accounts for their extraordinary historical impact. Marjoleine Kars is a marvellous writer and scholar, using untapped sources to breathe life into both the oppressors and the oppressed in a colony built on slavery and savage violence. In Blood on the River she presents us with a quite unforgettable narrative.”

Mary Hunter, dean of the faculty of arts at McGill University, which adminsters the award, added: “The Cundill History Prize finalists provide a brilliant mix of innovative historical writing and engaging prose. Impeccably researched and skilfully argued, these three books offer fresh insights that will spark conversation and debate amongst historians and non-specialists alike.”

The Cundill History Prize Festival returns, fully digitally, in the first week on 1st and 2nd December, featuring the Cundill Lecture, delivered by last year’s winner, Camilla Townsend, author of Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs (Oxford University Press) and the Cundill Forum, which brings together the three finalists in a conversation on a theme of global, current relevance. The winner will be announced as part of the festival on 2nd December.