Prestigious international Cundill History Prize receives record number of submissions in its 10th anniversary year

Historians and authors Amanda Foreman, Roy Foster, Rana Mitter, and Jeffrey Simpson join Margaret MacMillan to judge McGill’s relaunched prize

McGill University’s Cundill History Prize received a record number of submissions in its 10th anniversary year: a wide range of trade and university presses from across Canada, the United States, the UK and Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean submitted over 330 titles to the prestigious international prize – a two-fold increase from last year.

The historical topics are diverse in time, space and focus – spanning Antiquity to the 21st century – and represent many perspectives and approaches, including political, economic and military history and historical biography, as well as innovative studies of material culture, indigenous peoples, celebrity, communications, media, and crime.

The eminent historian Margaret MacMillan is the Chair of Jury in 2017. She is joined by an exceptional panel of historians and authors: the British-American historian and author Amanda Foreman, the award-winning Oxford Professor Roy Foster, the decorated Canadian journalist and author Jeffrey Simpson, and the Oxford Professor of Modern China Rana Mitter will judge the prize under her Chair.

The eminence of the jury further underlines the ambition of McGill University to relaunch the Cundill History Prize as the world’s most prominent champion of history writing – as a way to bring a better public understanding of the past at this critical time in world affairs.

The relaunch comes in the year Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, and coincides with the 375th anniversary of Montreal, where the Cundill History Prize Gala will take place in November.

The Cundill History Prize recognizes and rewards the best history writing in English, with US$75,000 going to the Cundill History Prize winner, and the two runners up each receiving a Recognition of Excellence Award worth US$10,000. It is open to authors regardless of their nationality or place of residence, and translations are warmly welcomed.

For this first time this year, the prize will announce a longlist of 10-12 titles (at the end of September), in addition to a shortlist of six (October) and a group of three finalists. The finalists and winner will be announced at the Cundill History Prize Gala, to be held in Montreal on November 16.

The jurors have joined Margaret MacMillan in stressing history writing’s vital importance in the challenging world we live in.

“Judging the Cundill History Prize in its 10th year is an immense honor. The current state of our world, and the accompanying bewilderment felt by many, is a powerful reminder that clear, compelling history is not just an asset, it is a necessity. I look forward to reading this year’s submissions and championing the work of the writers and historians helping us take ownership of our past.”
— Amanda Foreman
“Though history-writing is going through a strikingly high-profile period, even something of a golden age, it lacks the rewards and attention meted out to fiction. In an era when the exploration of historical crisis and context has never been more important, it seems vitally important to focus on particularly illuminating works of history by contemporary writers, with a view to recognising works that are innovative, scholarly and accessible. The Cundill Prize fulfils a unique function, in attempting to do exactly that.”
— Roy Foster
“We are living through historical times and we need the perspective of fine historical writing more than ever. The Cundill Prize honours and celebrates one of the great human arts that has been developing since the days of Thucydides, Livy, and Sima Qian: to record and analyse the past in terms that are objective and well-researched, but also gripping and relevant.  In the historical year that marks 150 years since Canada’s confederation, it is a huge pleasure to be part of the judging process for this major award.”
— Rana Mitter
“The richness of the Cundill Prize entries makes any book that gets to the top of the pile an extraordinary accomplishment, and one well worth reading.”
— Jeffrey Simpson
When she was appointed the Chair of Jury in May, commented: “History – good, readable, evidence-based history – is part of the toolbox of democracy.  We live in a challenging world and it is more important than ever to understand ourselves and others, where we came from and where we might be going, and only history can provide those insights.”
— Margaret MacMillan, Chair of 2017 Jury

The 2017 winner will join an impressive roll call of alumni, including the American historian Thomas W. Laqueur; the Pulitzer-prize winning historian and Washington Post journalist Anne Applebaum; the Italian historian Sergio Luzzatto; the Canadian-born Susan Pedersen ; and the late British public intellectual Lisa Jardine.

McGill has commissioned a new brand identity for the 10th anniversary, complete with a redesigned website at  

The 2017 Cundill History Prize is sponsored by Burgundy Asset Management. The global investment manager has generously supported the prize over the last four years.

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