Three titles in the running for world's richest history prize; 'great literature' says judge Peter Frankopan
The shortlist for the Cundill History Prize was unveiled last night in Toronto, with three leading American authors in the race for the $75,000 prize. The three in the hunt are:-
Caroline Fraser with Prairie Fires - The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder Little, Brown (UK) Metropolitan Books (CAN, US)
Maya Jasanoff The Dawn Watch - Joseph Conrad in a Global World with HarperCollins (UK) Penguin Random House (CAN, US)
Sam White with A Cold Welcome - The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America Harvard University Press (UK, CAN, US)
Making the announcement on behalf of the jury at the Toronto event, Canadian journalist and author Jeffrey Simpson said: "These three books each demonstrate innovative and different ways of writing history, through exploration of climate change’s impact on American settlements, women’s struggles with the American frontier, and the modern relevance of a famous but sometimes forgotten novelist. They each meet the test of the Cundill History Prize: solid research, arresting narrative, and excellent prose."
Mark Gilbert, chair of the Jury, said: "Having invested thousands of hours into the research of their books, these outstanding historians have managed to turn their material into works of history that are also irresistible reads. Going beyond traditional, straight-forward history, the finalists for the 2018 Cundill History Prize are works that move the genre of history writing forward."
Juror Peter Frankopan said: "When you are writing history, you need a sprinkling of fairy dust, something that allows your prose to spring from the page, and to bring the reader with you. Our finalists are a masterclass in how this is done. These books are not just exceptional works of historical scholarship; they are also great literature."
The winner will be revealed at the Cundill History Prize Gala in Montreal, on 15 November, alongside a series of events at McGill University including the annual Cundill History Prize Lecture, which will be delivered by the British historian Daniel Beer, who won last year’s prize for The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars.