Harvard professor Tiya Miles wins $102K historical writing prize for book about Black American resilience

The Cundill History Prize, which is administed by McGill University, honours the best history writing in English.

The Cundill History Prize honours the best history writing in English

The book cover for All That She Carried features an image of eight Black people standing in a field holding baskets.
All That She Carried is a book by Tiya Miles. (Random House)

Harvard professor Tiya Miles has won the 2022 Cundill History Prize for her book All that She Carried. 

Administered by McGill University, the prize annually awards $75,000 US ($101,841 Cdn) to a book that demonstrates historical scholarship, literary excellence and broad appeal. It is open to books from anywhere in the world, as long as they are available in English.

All That She Carried by Tiya Miles, which won the U.S. National Book Award for nonfiction in 2021, traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives.

Miles is a Michael Garvey professor of history and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute. The Ohio-born writer and MacArthur Foundation fellow is the author of books The Dawn of DetroitTies That BindThe House on Diamond Hill and The Cherokee Rose.

"Tiya Miles' All That She Carried is the winner, in a field of superb books, because of its clear and moving prose, its imaginative research, and the way the author illuminates the human condition through a family story," said the chair of the jury, J.R. McNeill in a statement. "The world of enslaved women in the antebellum South is, by the standards of U.S. history, extremely poorly documented, but Miles has risen to that challenge in ways that show the best of the historian's craft."

The two runner-ups are Cuba by Ada Ferrer and Collapse by Vladislav M. Zubok. 

Each finalist will receive $10,000 US ($13,579 Cdn).

Last year's winner was Historian Marjoleine Kars for her book, Blood on the River: a Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast.

Other past winners include Camilla Townsend, Julia Lovell, Maya Jasanoff and Daniel Beer.

LISTEN | Marjoleine Kars on her 2021 Cundill Prize win: 

The Cundill History Prize is the most prestigious of its kind. Marjoleine Kars won the award of $75,000 USD in 2021 for her book Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast. The author speaks with host Nahlah Ayed about uncovering a forgotten slave rebellion. *This episode originally aired on Dec. 2, 2021.

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