Shortlist for largest historical lit prize announced


$75,000 winner of Cundill International Prize in History to be chosen from list of three

How did Nazi ideology permeate and take hold of German society in the 1930s? Did religious tolerance really exist during the era of Inquisition? What inspired the rise of science in Holland during the 16th and 17th centuries? The fascinating and sometimes surprising answers to these questions are explored in depth in the three books selected as finalists for the inaugural Cundill International Prize in History, the world’s largest non-fiction historical literature award.

The shortlist was chosen from a longlist of 15 selected from an impressive field of 171 submissions. The titles are:

  • Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age by Harold J. Cook (Yale University Press)
  • Life and Death in the Third Reich by Peter Fritzsche (Harvard University Press)
  • All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World by Stuart B. Schwartz (Yale University Press)

The prize is administered by McGill University’s Dean of Arts, with the help of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC).

“At this level of excellence it is an extraordinarily difficult task to identify a final list of three books, and I appreciate the time, effort and seriousness with which the jury members undertook this task,” said Dean of Arts Christopher P. Manfredi, who serves as the Cundill Jury Administrative Chair. “It is extremely stimulating to listen to six intelligent and articulate individuals from diverse backgrounds speak about books and writing for several hours.”

The $75,000 U.S. first prize and two “Recognition of Excellence” awards of $10,000 U.S. are to be awarded Nov. 25. The prize, established by McGill alumnus Peter Cundill to recognize an author who has published a book determined to have a profound literary, social and academic impact on a given subject, was inaugurated in April.

This year’s jury includes President of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, Timothy Aitken; Canadian writer Denise Chong; Canadian Senator Serge Joyal; professors Angela Schottenhammer (Munich); Roger Chartier (Paris); and Natalie Zemon Davis (Toronto).

Peter Cundill FCA, CFA is the Principal of The Cundill Group, a global investment management firm with offices in Vancouver and Bermuda and representation in London and Japan. His career in investment management spans more than 40 years since he graduated from McGill with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1960. A native of Montreal, he has lived in London, England, for the past 30 years.

Shortlist book synopses and author bios:

Cundill Prize on the Web:

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