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Professor Julia Lovell wins the Cundill History Prize

The prestigious prize recognises leading historians of our time and the best history writing in English. Professor Lovell wins this year for her book, 'Maoism: A Global History'.

Professor Julia Lovell, Professor of Modern Chinese History and Literature in Birkbeck’s Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, has been awarded the prestigious Cundill History Prize for Maoism: A Global History. Her book, published earlier this year, takes an in-depth look at Maoism and examines the ideology’s place in modern-day China and around the world.

Professor Alan Taylor, chair of the jury called Maoism “a revelation”, stating that “her book will dazzle readers with lucid and vivid insights into the power of protean, and often deadly, ideology – and its enduring impact on our world today. Julia Lovell has written an exceptional work of history.”

Since it was published in March, the book has received critical acclaim and has been shortlisted for numerous prizes including the Nayef Al-Rodhan prize for Global Understanding, the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2019 and the Deutscher Memorial Prize. It has received excellent reviews from the New York Times, the Guardian and the (London) Times, and been described by critics as an “indispensable guide to Maoism”.

Professor Lovell said: 

"I feel deeply honoured and fortunate to have been awarded the Cundill Prize by such a distinguished jury. It was a great privilege to visit Montreal to participate in the Prize's events with a group of stellar historians: last year's winner Maya Jasanoff, and this year's fellow finalists Mary Fulbrook and Jill Lepore.'"

Professor Matthew Davies, Executive Dean of the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy at Birkbeck commented:

“The School is delighted at the news that Professor Lovell has been awarded the prestigious Cundill History Prize for her book Maoism: a Global History. The book exemplifies the highest standards of scholarship in history, and the public importance of the humanities and social sciences in a rapidly changing world. These are characteristics not only of Professor Lovell’s influential work but also of the wide-ranging research of colleagues in our department of History, Classics and Archaeology and across the School as a whole.”

Professor Jan Rüger, Head of the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology said:

“We are absolutely thrilled that Julia Lovell has won the Cundill Prize. Her book is a wonderful achievement, highly readable, deeply researched and truly global in approach. It is a compelling example of the culture at the heart of our department: the commitment to world-leading research that is engaged with current debate and feeds directly into our teaching.”

The Cundill History Prize is an annual award administered by McGill University in Montreal, and is widely considered to be the most important prize in the field of international history. Nominees are judged by a panel of academics from institutions across the world that assesses works on historical scholarship, originality, literary quality and broad appeal. The winner receives a prize of $75,000 (approximately £58,000) while two runners up receive $10,000 (£7,750) each.

The other finalists for this year’s prize were Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice by Mary Fulbrook and These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore.

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