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Finalists for the 2023 Cundill History Prize Announced

The leading international prize for history writing has named its 2023 finalists. The Cundill History Prize is open to books from anywhere in the world, regardless of the author’s nationality, as well as works translated into English. Each year, more than 300 title are submitted by trade and academic publishers from around the world.


The 2023 winner will join an exceptional alumni list of world-class historians: Tiya Miles (2022), Marjoleine Kars (2021), Camilla Townsend (2020), Julia Lovell (2019), Maya Jasanoff (2018), Daniel Beer (2017), Thomas W. Laqueur (2016), Susan Pedersen (2015), Gary Bass (2014), Anne Applebaum (2013), Stephen Platt (2012), Sergio Luzzatto (2011), Diarmaid MacCulloch (2010), Lisa Jardine (2009), Stuart B. Schwartz (2008).


After a summer of intense reading and re-reading, Levine was joined by her 2023 jurors — Marie Favereau, Eve M. Troutt Powell, Sol Serrano, Coll Thrush, and Adam Gopnik — to deliberate and decide which three books on their shortlist of 8, announced in New York last month, best met the key Cundill criteria: craft, communication, consequence.


All three finalists will travel to Montreal for the Cundill History Prize Festival, taking place on the McGill campus, in Montreal, November 7-8, where they will appear on a panel together for the Cundill Forum.


The finalists were announced as:


In Red Memory: Living, Remembering and Forgetting China’s Cultural Revolution, Tania Branigan uncovers forty years of silence through the rarely heard stories of individuals, and shows how this traumatic period still haunts China today.


In Queens of a Fallen World: The Lost Women of Augustine’s Confessions, Kate Cooper unravels the lives of the women who shaped St Augustine and paints a vivid portrait of the turbulent society they and Augustine moved through.


In Charged: A History of Batteries and Lessons for a Clean Energy Future, James Morton Turner unpacks the history of batteries to explore why solving “the battery problem” is critical to a clean energy transition.


Philippa Levine said: Tania Branigan’s compelling and chilling dive into the effects – past and present – of living through China’s Cultural Revolution reveals how the scars of that tempestuous history continue to resonate even now. Kate Cooper helps us think about the ancient world in new and unexpected ways, tracing the lives of the women who influenced St. Augustine. And in Charged, James Morton Turner brings a lightness of touch to an often technical history, and shows us why we urgently need to understand technology’s past if we aim to harness its future.”


The winner, who will see their prize money topped up to become US75,000, will be announced at a ceremony in Montreal on November 8.


For further information, and to join the conversation, visit: www.cundillprize.com

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