Books

Books about U.S. history, the Holocaust and Maoism nominated for $100K Cundill History Prize

Jill Lepore's These Truths, Mary Fulbrook's Reckonings and Julia Lovell's Maoism are the three finalists of the 2019 Cundill History Prize.
(From left): Jill Lepore, Mary Fulbrook and Julia Lovell are finalists for the 2019 Cundill History Prize. (Dari Pillsbury, Cundill History Prize)

Jill Lepore's These Truths, Mary Fulbrook's Reckonings and Julia Lovell's Maoism are the three finalists of the 2019 Cundill History Prize.

The prize, administered by McGill University, annually awards 75,000 U.S. ($99,930 Cdn) to the year's best work of historical nonfiction.

Lepore's book is a history of the U.S. from 1492 — the year Christopher Columbus made landfall in the Americas — to the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Jury member Charlotte Gray described These Truths as "ambitious" and "sweeping."

"I learned not just about the larger figures, which we are familiar with, but also those who have been nameless up until now: escaped slaves, IT specialists, and those who have been hurt by the fact that, all too often, the founding fathers' truths have been completely distorted in practice," said Gray in a press release.

Lepore is a professor at Harvard and staff writer at The New Yorker.

The 2019 Cundill History Prize finalists. (Cundill History Prize)

Fulbrook's Reckonings tells the story of the Holocaust from the perspective of both the victims and perpetrators. The book won the Wolfson History Prize earlier this year.

"Reckonings made me deeply uncomfortable — and I mean that as a recommendation," said jury member Rana Mitter in a press release.

"It told me a story about my continent, Europe, which I hadn't fully absorbed: that the liberal democratic elements, which seem so prominent, are actually underpinned by the still unresolved legacy of the Nazi period in Germany."

Fulbrook is a professor of German history at University College London.

Lovell's Maoism explores the global legacy of Maoism and uncovers its impact in countires like India, France and Tanzania.

"Maoism is a history of ideas, deeply grounded in research, with well-developed characters — and a major contribution to various different literatures: the historiography of the Cold War, the literature that exists on decolonisation and the history of Marxism in its various formations," said jury member Robert Gerwarth in a press release.

Lovell is a professor of modern China at the University of London.

The jury panel is chaired by Alan Taylor and also includes Jane Kamensky, Gray, Mitter and Gerwarth.

They will also choose the winner, which will be announced on Nov. 14, 2019 in Montreal.

The 2018 winner was Maya Jasanoff for The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World.

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