Applebaum's Cundill Prize
#language & literature
no-image, Applebaum's Cundill Prize
2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill University goes to Anne Applebaum for her book Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956
Chosen amongst a stormy 116 submissions, the author's account of the rise of the Iron Curtain in post-World War II Europe wins largest international prize for work on history (reward of $ 75,000). Looking at Poland, Germany and Hungary from up close, her book describes the circumstances that allowed Josef Stalin to convert a dozen countries to communism. Using recently released archival material so far unavailable in English, she gives a detailed account of the swift process of depriving political parties, the Church, the media of freedom. She explains how the security services were organised, talks about the tactics of the communists and portrays the choices faced by individuals: fight, run away or cooperate. She comments,
I’ve been fascinated by the history of communism ever since, as a student, I spent a month studying Russian in Leningrad. To go to the Soviet Union at that time, before glasnost, felt like walking into a mirror: everything was backwards. Even the colors had vanished, replaced by black and white. Two decades later, I began to ask myself: if it was so absurd, how did it get built in the first place? How did the grim Russia I saw in the 1980s come to be? How did it spread its system into the heart of central Europe? What was the appeal of Soviet-style communism, if any? That line of thinking led me to the research which led to this book.
The American writer, historian, columnist for the Washington Post is a Pulitzer Prize winner (for the book Gulag: A History which narrates the history of the Soviet concentration camp system in 2004), and is currently director of political studies at the Legatum Institute in London. She has been living in Poland for a long time (has double Polish and American citizenship ) and is the wife of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Radosław Sikorski.
The book came out in the United States in the autumn of 2012 (published by Allen Lane – Penguin Books / McClelland & Stewart ) and in Poland in October 2012 (published by Świat Książki under the title Za żelazną kurtyną. Ujarzmienie Europy Wschodniej 1944-1956).
The Cundhill prize, awarded for the 6th time now, was created by McGill alumnus F. Peter Cundill in 2008.
Editor: MJJ 26.11.2013
Sources: Polish language article for Culture.pl, Montreal Gazette, McGill.ca, American Academy.de