History Buzz October 11, 2011: Cundill Prize in History at McGill University – Long List Announcement


History Buzz



Source: McGill University Press Release, 10-11-11

World’s largest history book award selects top new must-reads

The jury for the Cundill Prize in History at McGill has announced the six titles that will compete for the world‘s largest non-fiction history book award, which offers the winning author a US$75,000 grand prize.

The Prize, now in its fourth year, accepts published books in English— or translated to English— in the area of history. In addition to the grand prize, two ‗Recognition of Excellence‘ awards of US$10,000 each are granted to the runners-up.

―The award is designed, in part, to welcome 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,‖ explained Christopher Manfredi, Dean of Arts at McGill University. ―We seek out potential bestsellers,‖ he added.

The long-list of books was selected from 132 eligible entries submitted by various publishing houses around the world. The five-member jury deliberated a longer list established in September, choosing the following titles as top historical literature:

  • Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf, distributed by Random House of Canada) by Maya Jasanoff;
  • Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age (Metropolitan Books) by Sergio Luzzatto;
  • You Are All Free: The Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery (Cambridge University Press) by Jeremy Popkin;
  • Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (Oxford University Press) by Ulinka Rublack;
  • Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books) by Timothy Snyder;
  • The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies (Alfred A. Knopf) by Alan Taylor.

*See below for more information.

―Six superb books, whose subjects range from the cultural patterns of the Renaissance as reflected in clothes of the era to the upheaval and dispossession of war [were selected],‖ said Jeffrey Simpson, National Affairs Columnist at The Globe and Mail, who also served as one of the jury members. This year, adds Simpson, four of six of the books touch on themes of military conflict. In addition to Simpson, this year‘s esteemed members of the Cundill jury include Anthony Cary, Executive Director of the Queen’s-Blyth Educational Programs; McGill history professor Catherine Desbarats; Ramachandra Guha, Philippe Roman Chair of International Affairs and History at the London School of Economics; and Stuart Schwartz, Yale University history professor and winner of the 2008 Cundill Prize.

Later this month, the Award‘s jury will select the three finalists. The grand prize winner will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held in London, England on November 13.

Last year‘s Cundill Prize was awarded to author Diarmaid MacCulloch for A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. As is customary with previous Cundill Prize winners, the British church historian will be giving a public lecture December 1, 2011 at McGill University.

Every year since 2008 the Cundill Prize in History at McGill University selects three finalists of any nationality and from any country, who have published a book determined to have had or is likely to have a profound literary, social and academic impact in the area of history.

The award was established by the late McGill alumnus F. Peter Cundill to recognize and promote literary and academic achievement in history. The Cundill Foundation supports a wide range of charities as well as research projects and educational gifts.

For more information: http://www.mcgill.ca/cundillprize

Cundill Prize in History at McGill
c/o McGill Institute for the Study of Canada
McGill University

2011 Cundill Prize Long-List – Book Details from Jeffrey Simpson

As the two-hundredth anniversary looms of the War of 1812, Alan Taylor delivered a sweeping re-interpretation of that conflict. His title, The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies (Knopf) underscores that the war featured not only cross-border battles but pitted people on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border against themselves. In many ways, the War of 1812 was the last chapter of the American Revolution. Some British officials dreamed that the Americans would come to realize the mistake they had made in violently leaving the Empire; war-minded Americans imagined that north of the border people would eventually come to their sensesand join the Republic. Taylor explores the messy military contours of the conflict, with abiding attention to the tensions within each side to provide a colorful but careful reconstruction of the last war fought along the Canadian-U.S. border.
Some of those who resisted U.S. military ambitions in Canada were Loyalists to the British Crown who had left the United States during or after Britain‘s defeat in the Revolutionary War. Maya Jasanoff traces the travails of the Loyalists in the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, then follows them not just to the British colonies in Canada but to the Caribbean, Britain, Africa and India in a sweeping narrative of loyalty, dispossession, and re-settlement. Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf) judiciously weaves case histories of individuals and families into a broad and compelling story of those for whom the Crown exemplified the right mixture of liberty and order, a conviction that brought about their exile to new lands they did not know, where governments often did not know what to do with them.

Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin knew what to do with millions of people who stood in the way of the realization of their evil dreams. They systemically killed millions of people in the Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books), the title of Timothy Snyder‘s compendious account of the horrors wreaked upon the innocent in the vast geographic area from eastern Germany to the western Soviet Union. Starting with the Ukrainian famine and stretching until the end of World War Two, and with archival material drawn from many countries, Snyder paints a grim portrait of the motivations of the horrors‘ perpetrators and the travails and death of the victims. Ambitious in scope, meticulous in research, Bloodlands presents an unforgettable picture of a ghastly time in European history.

Jeremy Popkin‘s You Are All Free: The Haitian Revolution and the Abolition of Slavery (Cambridge University Press) delves into part of the Revolution in Saint Dominique (that later became Haiti), an epochal event in the history of slavery. Schooled in the history of Haiti and revolutionary France, Popkin uncovers how events in the two countries were interwoven in the course of the two revolutions. Replete with fascinating characters, French and Haitian, You Are All Free, offers an example of history that drills down into a series of specific events to offer lessons of wider applicability. Particularly fascinating is the role that contingency and chance played in events that from the rear view of mirror of history might have seemed pre-ordained but were anything but.
Padre Pio, an obscure Catholic priest who became a saint, remains even today a controversial, elusive figure in the history of twentieth-century Italy and Catholicism. How was it that this priest from a small parish, who claimed he had been touched by a stigmata (the scars of Christ), became a figure of adulation and scorn throughout Italy and beyond? In Sergio Luzzatto‘s book, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age (Metropolitan Books), the story of one priest becomes the story of Italy before and after World War Two, as political parties and movements read into him their visions for Italy, and as factions within the Catholic Church used or abused his priestly reputation to fight doctrinal battles. From obscurity to sainthood, the story of Padre Pio remains an arresting, bizarre, telling tale in the hands of a gifted writer.

Today, the fashion industry is all around us, but fashion before the Renaissance remained at the margin of society. With supreme skill, and with the help of superb illustrations, Ulinka Rublack takes us back to the emerging role that clothes, accessories and fashion played in the societies of Renaissance Europe. Her book, Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (Oxford University Press), demonstrates that clothes can indeed make history and history can be about clothes. What people wore, what images they made for themselves, how they created different looks, all shaped the identity of women and men, and of the societies they inhabited. For those with a taste for cultural history, Rublack has provided a gourmet spread.

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