WINNER: The House of the Dead: Siberian exile under the Tsars by Daniel Beer
Allen Lane

A new history of how the 19th century Tsars turned Siberia into a vast, brutal prison-camp. It was known as 'the vast prison without a roof'. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the Russian Revolution, the tsarist regime exiled more than one million prisoners and their families beyond the Ural Mountains to Siberia.

The House of the Dead, brings to life both the brutal realities of an inhuman system and the tragic and inspiring fates of those who endured it. This masterly work of original research taps a mass of almost unknown primary evidence held in Russian and Siberian archives to tell the epic story both of Russia's struggle to govern its monstrous penal colony and Siberia's ultimate, decisive impact on the political forces of the modern world.

Daniel Beer is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London.  He is the author of Renovating Russia: The Human Sciences and the Fate of Liberal Modernity, 1880-1930, 2008. The House of the Dead has been shortlisted for The Wolfson History Prize, The Pushkin House Russian Book Prize and the Longman History Today Prize, 2017. It was also included in Books of the Year 2016 by The Times, BBC History and TLS.

Vietnam: A New History
Basic Books

The definitive history of modern Vietnam and its diverse and divided past.

Vietnam today offers a fascinating mosaic of peoples, languages, and cultures—a small nation that is home to over fifty ethnic groups speaking more than a half-dozen different tongues. The country's extraordinary diversity is the legacy of centuries of imperial collisions and ever-shifting political configurations.

A major achievement, Vietnam offers the grand narrative of the country's complex past and the creation of the modern state of Vietnam. At a time when more and more visitors come to Vietnam and Southeast Asia is again at the center of intense global rivalries, this is the definitive single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand Vietnam today.

Christopher Goscha studied at the School of Foreign Service, University of Georgetown (BA), the Australian National University at Canberra (MA), the University Diderot Paris VIII (MA) and l’École des Hautes Études (PhD, La Sorbonne). He joined the history department at the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2005. He teaches international relations, world history, the history of colonial and postcolonial Indochina, decolonization and the Indochina Wars. He is the author and editor of numerous books on Vietnam, Southeast Asia, and international relations in English and French. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

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

How only violence and catastrophes have consistently reduced inequality throughout world history.

Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world.

An essential contribution to the debate about inequality, The Great Leveler provides important new insights about why inequality is so persistent—and why it is unlikely to decline anytime soon.

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. The author or editor of sixteen previous books, he has published widely on premodern social and economic history, demography, and comparative history. He lives in Palo Alto, California.

The 2017 Longlist

  • Black Elk by Joe Jackson (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)
  • Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy by Heather Thompson (Pantheon Books)Martin Luther by Lyndal Roper (Bodley Head)
  • Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel (Allen Lane)
  • The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances FitzGerald (Simon & Schuster US)
  • The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsar by Daniel Beer (Allen Lane)
  • The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times by Christopher de Bellaigue
  • Vietnam: A New History by Christopher Goscha (Basic Books)
  • Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 by Stephen Smith (Oxford University Press)
  • The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel (Princeton University Press)