Thursday 1 October 2015

Cundill Prize List - World's Biggest History Award - now has just three books in the running for $75K (us)

Finalists announced for the 2015 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

Three books to compete for $75,000 US grand prize

three books in the running for the Cundill Prize

Montreal. October 1, 2015 – Today the jury for the world’s most lucrative award for historical non-fiction writing announced this year's finalist list.  There are now three potential winners in the running for the $75,000 US 2015 Cundill Prize.

The three finalists are:
  • Sven Beckert – Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Susan Pedersen – The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (Oxford University Press)
  • Bettina Stangneth – Eichmann before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer (Bodley Head)            
This year’s Cundill jury includes Anthony Cary, British Commissioner of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan; David Frum, author and editor for The Atlantic; Chad Gaffield, University of Ottawa Professor of History and University Research Chair in Digital Scholarship; Maya Jasanoff, Coolidge Professor of History and Harvard College Professor at Harvard University  (Liberty’s Exiles:  American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World); and author Anna Porter, (Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy, The Ghosts of Europe) and winner of the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

 “The Cundill Prize jury is looking for that certain book that is scholarly but that is written in a language that speaks to an audience outside the academy,” said Prof. Hudson Meadwell, who serves as Administrative Chair of the Cundill Prize. “ The Cundill Prize is a wonderful form of recognition.  It is a relatively new award and it is gaining more impact with each passing award. It is now recognized as the most important historical prize in the English language.”

The Cundill Prize accepts books published in English – or translated to English – in the area of history.  This year the Prize received 159 titles from publishers around the globe. In addition to the Grand Prize, two “Recognition of Excellence” awards of $10,000 U.S. each, are granted to the runners-up.  There were six books in the jury’s original shortlist; today’s announcement narrows the field to just three titles.

The Grand Prize winner of the 2015 Cundill Prize will be announced at a gala awards ceremony in Toronto on Monday, November 2, at the Shangri-La Hotel. Famed Canadian author (The Massey Murder; Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike) and speaker Charlotte Gray will host.   

The 2014 Cundill Prize was won by Gary J. Bass, a professor of politics at Princeton University for his detailing of a forgotten / ignored mass tragedy in Bangladesh. The book The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide was published in 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf. Professor Bass will be the keynote speaker at the annual Cundill Prize Lecture on October 8, 2015. The afternoon lecture will be held at Birks Heritage Chapel, 2nd floor 3520 University Street in Montreal.

About the Prize: 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), and is awarded annually to an individual who has published a book determined to have had a profound literary, social and academic impact in the area of history.  

Cynthia Lee,
McGill University 

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