Cundill Finalists announced

Posted on Tuesday, October 22, 2013
This year's Cundill Prize finalists. / Photo: Cynthia Lee.

This year’s Cundill Prize finalists. / Photo: Cynthia Lee.

Competition for world’s most lucrative award for historical writing down to three titles

By Cynthia Lee

And then there were three.

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

The finalists are:

• Anne Applebaum – Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 (Allen Lane-Penguin Books / McClelland & Stewart)

• Christopher Clark – The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went To War In 1914 (HarperCollins Publishers / Allen Lane-Penguin Books)

• Fredrik Logevall – Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (Random House)

In an interview with the McGill Reporter, Stephen Platt, last year’s grand prize winner for his book, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, The West, And The Epic Story of The Taiping Civil War, said winning the Cundill Prize changed his life in significant ways.

“Aside from the more obvious benefits of winning a major prize such as this – greater exposure, more invitations to give talks, expressions of interest in my work from quarters I never would have expected – there is a more intangible one, namely a heightened confidence to stay the course in my particular brand of scholarship. I could not have imagined a better kind of encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing,” Platt said.

The Cundill Prize accepts books published 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 November 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).

Said last year’s winner Platt, “The generous funds attached to the prize, as well as the prestige it conveys, have made it possible for me to continue with my work at a more liberated pace, on my own terms, with greater intellectual freedom than ever before.”

For more information, go here.

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