Shortlist for 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature announced

Six books will be vying for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature. The prize, now in its sixth year, features a $75,000 U.S. grand prize, making the Cundill Prize the world’s most lucrative international award for a nonfiction book.

Six books competing for the world’s most lucrative award for historical writing

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill’s Faculty of Arts unveiled today the six books shortlisted for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature. The jury selected the works from 116 titles published all over the globe. The prize, now in its sixth year, features a $75,000 U.S. grand prize, making the Cundill Prize the world’s most lucrative international award for a nonfiction book.

“As in years past, the Cundill jury has done an outstanding job of selecting this year’s shortlisted books,” said Prof. Christopher Manfredi, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, who serves as Administrative Chair of the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill. “The Cundill Prize is designed, in part, to introduce outstanding history books that are accessible to the wider public – books that can be read and understood by experts and are appealing to informed readers alike. The diverse and fascinating range of topics includes the paths to the First World and the Vietnam wars, the life of French novelist Alexandre Dumas, the influence of the year 1979 on the 21st century, American intervention in World War II, and an examination of Eastern European Communist Regimes.”

The shortlisted selections are:

  • Anne Applebaum Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 (Allen Lane – Penguin Books / McClelland & Stewart)
  • Christian Caryl – Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century (Basic Books)
  • Christopher Clark – The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went To War In 1914 (HarperCollins / Allen Lane  – Penguin Books)
  • Fredrik Logevall – Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (Random House)
  • Lynne Olson – Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 (Random House)
  • Tom Reiss – The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo (Harvill Secker)

“I am also pleased the jury has included two honourable mentions along with their short list, a Cundill first, for a book examining the Great Chinese famine, and one looking at the fall of Rome and the rise of wealth in the Christian Church,” added Manfredi.  “This list truly reflects the best works of historical literature written in the past year, and on behalf of the University, I extend warm congratulations to all the selected authors.”

The works that have received honourable mentions are Yang Jisheng’s Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Peter Brown’s Through the Eye of the Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West (Princeton University Press).

The Cundill Prize accepts books in published English – or translated to English – in the area of history. In addition to the grand prize, two “Recognition of Excellence” awards of $10,000 U.S. each are granted to the runners-up. The grand prize winner will be announced at the Cundill Prize Awards Ceremony on Nov. 20, in Toronto.

This year’s Cundill Jury includes Garvin Brown, Executive Vice-President of the Brown-Forman Corporation; Anthony Cary, Executive Director of the Queen’s-Blyth Educational Programs; Sergio Luzzatto, Modern History Professor, University of Turin and winner of the Cundill Prize in 2011 for his book “Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age”; Marla R. Miller, Professor & Director, Public History Program and Graduate Program Director, University of Massachusetts; and Thomas H. B. Symons, Founding President and Professor Emeritus, Trent University.

The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill is the world’s most important international nonfiction historical literature prize. It was established in 2008 by McGill alumnus F. Peter Cundill, who passed away in January 2011. The prize is administered by McGill University’s Dean of Arts, with the help of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC).

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