Michael Ignatieff to chair Cundill History Prize judges

Michael Ignatieff to chair Cundill History Prize judges

The historian, author, university professor and former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Michael Ignatieff will chair the jury for the 2021 Cundill History Prize.

The prize, which awards $75,000 (£53,340) to the overall winner and $10,000 (£712,000) to each of the two runners up, recognises the best history writing in English, and is the highest monetary value non-fiction award in the world.  

Ignatieff said: “I’m a historian by training and like nothing better than history books that upend our understanding of the present. So it's a wonderful opportunity to chair this year’s Cundill History Prize and go in search of great history writing that tells a compelling story, is grounded in world-class research and changes our understanding of the contemporary world.”

The prize is administered by by McGill University. Submissions are now open and publishers have until Friday 30th April to submit their best works of history for consideration. The prize is open to authors from anywhere in the world, regardless of nationality or place of residence, and also accepts translations into English. As of 2020, it has transitioned to a fully digital submissions process.  

Jason Opal, chair of the department of History and Classical Studies at McGill, said: “We are thrilled that the jury for the 2021 Cundill History Prize will be chaired by Michael Ignatieff, a scholar and statesman with a unique perspective on the human past and the human condition. As an historian, writer, political leader, and expert on human rights and international affairs, he is ideally suited to help us find the very best in historical writing and scholarship. As the world is facing overlapping crises, it is vital to understand history itself—to see how we arrived at this point, and, from there, how we might change course. This is the central purpose of the Cundill History Prize, as we continue to seek out the books that help us navigate our troubled times.”

Last year, the jury chaired by Peter Frankopan awarded first prize to Camilla Townsend for her Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs, a revolutionary retelling of early Mexican history through the indigenous people’s own words.