February 23rd 2024 in News

Historian of modern China, Rana Mitter OBE FBA to chair 2024 Cundill History Prize

Rana Mitter Hi Res Pic Photo 20191

Rana Mitter OBE FBA, the celebrated Harvard-based historian of modern China, will chair the jury for the 2024 Cundill History Prize.

A juror in 2017 and 2019, Mitter is ST Lee Chair in US-Asia Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of several books, including China’s War with Japan: The Struggle for Survival, 1937-1945 (Allen Lane, 2013) [US/Canada title: Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945], which won the 2014 RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature, and China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism (Harvard University Press, 2020), which explores the impact of World War II on contemporary Chinese nationalism.

A regular presenter of the arts and ideas program Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3, his writing on contemporary China has appeared recently in Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, The Critic, Spectator and Guardian. His recent documentary on contemporary Chinese politics ‘Meanwhile in Beijing’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Rana Mitter said: “We live in historic times, a situation that is endlessly fascinating but often uncomfortable. Our present moment has made me realize how valuable it is to be able to read and understand history: as a reminder that there are precedents and causes for what we see in the contemporary world, and as proof that careful examination of evidence and clear explanation can illuminate and educate, as well as entertain. The Cundill History Prize has always showcased the very best in history that is brilliantly researched and compellingly written. I look forward to finding out what 2024’s finest writers on the past want to tell us.”

Mitter will chair a panel of world-class historians, which will be announced in April. The shortlist and finalists chosen by the jury will be revealed in September, followed by the winner announcement in late October as part of the annual Cundill History Prize Festival in Montreal.

Submissions opened in January and have already reached record numbers at the halfway stage. Publishers have until Friday, 15th March to submit their best works of history for consideration. Administered by McGill University, the prize is open to authors from anywhere in the world, regardless of nationality or place of residence, and to books translated into English.

As of 2020, the Prize has transitioned to a fully digital submissions process. For further information, eligibility details and to submit, please visit: www.cundillprize.com/submit.

A prize of US$75,000 is awarded to the winner, making the Cundill History Prize the largest purse for a work of non-fiction in English, with US$10,000 awarded to each of the two runners-up.

The 2024 winner will join an alumni list of world-leading historians and authors: Tania Branigan (2023), Tiya Miles (2022), Marjoleine Kars (2021), Camilla Townsend (2020), Julia Lovell (2019), Maya Jasanoff (2018), Daniel Beer (2017), Thomas W. Laqueur (2016), Susan Pedersen (2015), Gary Bass (2014), Anne Applebaum (2013), Stephen Platt (2012), Sergio Luzzatto (2011), Diarmaid MacCulloch (2010), Lisa Jardine (2009), Stuart B. Schwartz (2008).

Rana Mitter grew up in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and taught at Oxford for more than 20 years. He was Director of the University China Centre at the University of Oxford, and Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China until 2023 when he moved to Harvard University. In 2015 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), and in 2019 he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Last year, the jury, chaired by Philippa Levine, awarded the prize to Tania Branigan, Foreign Leader Writer at The Guardian, for Red Memory: Living, Remembering and Forgetting China’s Cultural Revolution (Faber & Faber). Levine described the winning book as: “Haunting and memorable. Tania Branigan’s sensitive study of the impact of the Cultural Revolution on the lives and psyches of an entire generation in China affected every juror, as it will every reader.” The two fellow finalists were Kate Cooper, Professor of History at Royal Holloway, University of London, for Queens of a Fallen World: The Lost Women of Augustine’s Confessions (Basic Books), and James Morton Turner, Professor of Environmental Studies at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, for Charged: A History of Batteries and Lessons for a Clean Energy Future (University of Washington Press).