Cundill Prize long list announced

Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The six finalists for the 2012 Cundill Prize in History at McGill. / Photo: Joy Qiaoyi Wang

By McGill Reporter Staff

Christopher Manfredi, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, has read a few books in his time and when he gives an endorsement, it carries some weight. Manfredi couldn’t be happier with the long list of six books contending for the 2012 Cundill Prize in History at McGill as announced earlier today.

“Six gifted authors, six different themes,” said Manfredi “The themes for this year’s long-listed Cundill Prize books cover themes ranging from the role of religion in American foreign policy to the siege of Leningrad; the causes and consequences of the Opium War; the decline of violence in history; the Taiping Civil War; and how the Renaissance began. 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. I believe the jury has outdone itself this year in finding these six wonderful books among the 143 eligible submissions.”

The six finalists were chosen from among 143 works submitted this year by publishers from all over the globe. The competition, now in its fifth year, features a $75,000 U.S. grand prize, representing the world’s most lucrative international award for a nonfiction book.

The long-listed selections are:

Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (The Bodley Head and W.W. Norton & Company).

Julia Lovell, The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China (Picador).

Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes (Allen Lane).

Stephen Platt, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, The West, And The Epic Story of The Taiping Civil War (Alfred A. Knopf).

Andrew Preston, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (Knopf Canada).

Anna Reid, Leningrad: Tragedy of a City Under Siege, 1941-44 (Allen Lane Canada).

The Prize, now in its fifth 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 $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 Thursday, Nov. 29, in Montreal.

This year’s Cundill Jury includes Garvin Brown, Executive Vice President of Brown-Forman Corporation; Charles R. Kesler, senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, editor of the Claremont Review of Books; Vanessa Ruth Schwartz, Professor of History, Art History and Film, University of Southern California, and The Globe and Mail’s national affairs columnist Jeffrey Simpson.

The Cundill Prize in History 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).

For more information go here.

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