$75,000 Cundill History Prize relaunched

McGill is relaunching the Cundill History Prize to highlight history writing as a way to illuminate the truth at a time in world affairs when informed, factual debate is increasingly losing out to populism and retrenchment is on the rise.

‘Nixon in China’ historian Margaret MacMillan named to lead jury

By McGill Reporter Staff

In a time when people have trouble discerning what information is reliable and what isn’t, “fake news” has become the clarion call for many. In particular, the world is transfixed on the United States, where the some of the mainstream media has been riven along party lines and it seems as if unflinching partisan fealty has gained more currency in some newsrooms than the search for objective truth.

With that as the backdrop to volatile times, the relaunching of the Cundill Prize in History seems more a cultural necessity than an exercise in rebranding.

“History,” says Margaret MacMillan, “is part of the toolbox of democracy.”

Renowned historian Margaret MacMillan will serve as the Chair of Judges for the Cundill History Prize

MacMillan, a Canadian and an eminent historian and award-winning author, has been named as the Chair of Judges for the Cundill Prize, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

MacMillan believes current events have made historical scholarship particularly relevant.  “We live in a challenging world and it is more important than ever to understand ourselves and others, where we came from and where we might be going, and only history can provide those insights,” says the current Warden of St Antony’s College and Professor of International History, at the University of Oxford.

The Cundill History Prize recognizes and rewards the best history writing in English, with $75,000 U.S. going to the winner, and the two runners-up each receiving a Recognition of Excellence Award worth $10,000 U.S. The Prize was established by F. Peter Cundill (1938-2011), a distinguished alumnus of McGill, a philanthropist and renowned global investor. A voracious reader and inveterate traveller, Cundill had an abiding passion for history who believed it was possible to comprehend the present and arrive at a measured perspective about the future only by first understanding the past.

McGill has commissioned a new brand identity for the 10th anniversary, complete with a redesigned website, which has just been launched.

Antonia Maioni, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, says the prize has been revamped “to evoke a better understanding of humanity and illuminate the truth at a time when objective facts are increasingly losing out to populism.

“At what feels like a turning point in world affairs, we at McGill believe it is more important than ever to champion the highest quality historical scholarship produced anywhere across the globe,” Maioni said.

Submissions are open until June 16, 2017, for books published in English between June 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017. The winner will be announced at the Cundill History Prize awards ceremony to be held in Montreal on November 16, 2017.

Past winners of the Cundill Prize in History include:


Thomas W. Laqueur – The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains


Susan Pedersen – The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire


Gary Bass – The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide


Anne Applebaum – Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956


Stephen Platt – Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, The West, And The Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War


Sergio Luzzatto – Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age


Diarmaid MacCulloch – A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years


Lisa Jardine – Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory


Stuart B. Schwartz – All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World.