Cp 5 D3 A7774
Cp 5 D3 A7807
171116 223840 8039

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

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017, 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

“The three finalists for the 2017 Cundill History Prize are extraordinary works of history: beautifully crafted, well-researched, and ambitious. They tackle big issues and help us to know ourselves and our world better. We live in complicated times and the work of historians such as these provides us with the necessary background, understanding and insights to enable us to formulate the sorts of questions we ought to be asking.”

Margaret MacMillan, Chair of the Jury

Key Dates

Submissions open – April 10, 2017 
Submissions close – June 16, 2017 
Longlist announced – September 26, 2017
Shortlist announced – October 26, 2017
Cundill History Prize Gala – November 16, 2017

The 2017 Jury

Margaret MacMillan is joined by Amanda Foreman, Rana Mitter, Roy Foster and Jeffrey Simpson to judge the Cundill History Prize in 2017.

Click here to read more

The Gala

Don't miss your chance to attend the Cundill History Prize Gala in Montreal on November 16, 2017.

Subscribe to our Mailing List for more detail


Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is an American-Polish journalist, and the 2013 Cundill History Prize–winning author who ha… https://t.co/PQO2uLAwya
"Without an honest reckoning with Russia's dark history of political repression, there can be no shared determinati… https://t.co/Izz0kA0hXf
"The sweet spot of serious scholarship for a wider audience" - @timeshighered interviews our 2017 winner… https://t.co/1z0ZgHUkOz
RT @Foyles: On our blog: Read @CundillPrize winner @Beerdaniel on Dostoevsky's foundational experience as an exile in Siberia https://t.co/

The Cundill History Prize

Past Winners

Click to see the archive