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Submissions are now open for the $75,000 Cundill History Prize, which recognizes and rewards the best history writing in English. Click here to submit.

Cp 5 D3 A7774
Cp 5 D3 A7807
171116 223840 8039

2017 Winner of the Cundill History Prize 


The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile under the Tsars

by Daniel Beer

(Allen Lane)


A ground-breaking new study of how the 19th century Tsars turned Siberia into a vast and brutal prison camp.


‘Daniel Beer has done extraordinary research, using underappreciated and unexamined sources, to show what exile meant to generations of Russians and other nationalities within the Russian Empire. He gives a moving and heart-rending account of what happened to these people, most of whom never returned from Siberia. The House of the Dead is a haunting and important contribution to Russian history, and a hugely deserving winner of the 2017 Cundill History Prize.’ Margaret MacMillan, Chair of the Jury

‘Daniel Beer has a universality of approach that is both innovative and important. He tells the story of an immense tragedy, spanning hundreds of years. The House of the Dead uses a huge canvas, but Beer is able to bring out individual stories and a real sense of what it means to be human. This book is a triumph.’ Juror Amanda Foreman

‘Daniel Beer’s The House of the Dead reads like a tragic Russian novel, which is apposite since Dostoevsky and, indeed, Chekhov figure in the story of Siberia. The book shows the tragedy of the people who were sent marching east, and the extraordinary variety of the lives they made, and lost, there: Russian revolutionaries, Polish nationalists, and all sorts of felons and outcasts. While beautifully written, and a riveting read, it is quarried out of an extraordinary range of sources, hitherto unavailable, and is a work of great scholarship.’ Juror Roy Foster

‘The Cundill History Prize is given to a book that marks a particular excellence in the quality of history, and what I mean by that is ‘craft’; providing something for the writing and the study of history that shows a particular sort of ambition, scope and dedication. Daniel Beer has combined meticulous use of archives with a gripping narrative drive. This is a book that shows the historian’s craft at the highest level.’ Juror Rana Mitter

‘The Cundill History Prize looks for outstanding historical scholarship, but also accessibility: a reader who is not an expert should be able to read and understand the book it chooses. And the winner must teach us something we can profit from today, as we grapple with contemporary problems.’ Juror Jeffrey Simpson

Margaret MacMillan


2017 Chair of Jury

2017 Square Carousel Margaret Mac Millan

The prestigious international Cundill History Prize recognizes and rewards the best history writing
in English.


Administered by McGill University in Montreal, the Cundill History Prize generously rewards the leading historians of our time, with US$75,000 going to the winner, and the two runners up each receiving a Recognition of Excellence Award, together with US$10,000. A distinguished jury is seeking the book that embodies historical scholarship, originality, literary quality and broad appeal. Previous winners include Thomas W. Laqueur, Susan Pedersen, Lisa Jardine, Anne Applebaum, and Diarmaid MacCulloch. 

The 2017 Finalists 


The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars  by Daniel Beer

Allen Lane

Vietnam: A New History by Christopher Goscha 

Basic Books

The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel 

Princeton University Press

2018 Key Dates


Will be announced in April 2018. 

The 2018 Jury


Will be announced in spring 2018.

To read more about the 2017 jury click here

The Gala


Don't miss your chance to attend the Cundill History Prize Gala in Montreal in November 2018.

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The Cundill History Prize


Past Winners


Click to see the archive