By Cynthia Lee, Media Relations Office
The Cundill History Prize has released a longlist of books – on topics ranging from Vietnam to the Islamic world and from Russia to North America – that are in contention for the international prize that rewards the best history writing in English.
The richest non-fiction prize in the world for a single work in English, the Cundill Prize is worth US$75,000 to the winner. The two runners up each receive a Recognition of Excellence Award worth US$10,000.
The eminent jury of five, under the chair of Margaret MacMillan, has chosen ten historians from five countries to be in the running for the prize in its 10th anniversary year.
“Our longlist reflects the exciting and varied state of history today. The books on it cover subjects from Vietnam to Native American history and range in time from prehistory to the present,” said MacMillan. “Their outstanding men and women authors come from around the world. It certainly wasn’t easy for our jury to whittle down over 300 entries into 10 but I am happy that we have come up with such a strong and interesting selection.”
The Cundill History Prize longlist includes:
- Black Elk, by Joe Jackson. Jackson delivers the definitive history of the Native American holy man whose dramatic life converged with some of the most momentous events in the history of the American West.
- Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, by Heather Thompson. Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the infamous uprising and its legacy – and gives voice to all those who had to fight forty-five-year to bring about justice.
- Martin Luther, by Lyndal Roper. Roper’s Martin Luther reveals the often contradictory psychological forces that drove the man whose small act of protest turned into a battle against the power of the Church.
- Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, by Christopher de Hamel. De Hamel explores nearly a thousand years of medieval history – by inviting readers into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence.
- The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, by Frances FitzGerald. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and historian Frances FitzGerald tells the story of how the Christian evangelical movement has come to play such an influential role in the culture and politics of the USA.
- The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars, by Daniel Beer. A history of how the 19th century Tsars turned Siberia into a vast and brutal prison camp.
- The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times, by Christopher de Ballaigue. De Ballaigue challenges what we thought we knew about the history of the Islamic world.
- Vietnam: A New History, by Christopher Goscha. A look at Vietnam’s diverse and divided past.
- Russia in Revolution: An Empire in crisis, 1890 to 1928, by Stephen Smith. A panoramic account of the history of the Russian empire – and what it might mean for us today.
- The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, by Walter Schneidel. A controversial work of economic history that provides important insights about why inequality is so persistent, and unlikely to go away.
Margaret MacMillan is joined by the British-American historian and author Amanda Foreman, the award-winning Oxford Professor Roy Foster, the decorated Canadian journalist and author Jeffrey Simpson, and the Oxford Professor of Modern China Rana Mitter to judge the prize.
Seven publishers from three territories are represented on the longlist, including two imprints of Penguin Random House UK and one of Penguin Random House US. Publisher of the 2016 Cundill Prize winner (The Work of the Dead by Thomas W. Lacquer), Princeton University Press, return with Walter Scheidel’s The Great Leveler. With six titles, the U.S. is most strongly represented on the list. Four titles originate from the UK, one from Canada.
The three finalists will be announced by Margaret MacMillan at a press conference at Canada House in London on October 25/26. All three authors will attend the Cundill History Prize Gala in Montreal on Nov. 16, where the winner will be announced.