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2016 Winner

Thomas W. Laqueur - The Work of the Dead:
A Cultural History of Mortal Remains


Thomas Laqueur was born to German Jewish emigres in Istanbul nine months after the Battle of the Bulge had signaled the definitive defeat of Hitler. He grew up in the coal fields of southern West Virginia where his father was a pathologist in a hospital belong to the United Mine Workers. Laqueur studied philosophy, history and biology at Swarthmore College and modern history at Princeton and Nuffield College, Oxford. He began teaching at UC-Berkeley in 1973 and has never left.  He was a founding editor of Representations and for five years the Director of the Townsend Center for the Humanities where, among other things, he started a human rights center and a series of graduate working groups which still thrive today. He has for more than forty years been a passionate graduate and undergraduate teacher.

Laqueur's work has been focused on the history of popular religion and literacy; on the history the body — alive and dead; and on the history of death and memory. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the Threepenny Review, among other journals. He has won the usual fellowships but is most proud of the Mellon Distinguished Humanist Award, the proceeds from which he used as seed money for programs in religion, human rights, and science studies at Berkeley — all of which are now self-sustaining.

The Work of the Dead - Thomas W. Laqueur
Thomas W. Laqueur


David Wootton - The Invention of Science:
A New History of the Scientific Revolution


David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York. He was educated at Cambridge and Oxford, and held positions in history and politics at four Canadian universities from 1980 to 1994, including two years at McGill University. He has held visiting positions at Princeton and Washington University in St Louis. His previous books include Paolo Sarpi (1983), Bad Medicine (2006) and Galileo (2010). In addition to his work on the history of science he also writes on the history of political and economic thought, 1500-1800, in North America, Britain, France and Italy. He has given the Raleigh Lecture at the British Academy (2008), the Carlyle Lectures at Oxford (2014) and the Benedict Lectures at Boston (2014), and he will give the Besterman Lecture at Oxford later this year. He has reviewed for the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the TLS, the LRB, and the Spectator. For an interview with him see here. His website for this book is here.

The Invention of Science - David Wootton
David Wootton


Andrea Wulf - The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World


Andrea Wulf was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. She lives in London, where she trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art. She is the author of Chasing VenusFounding Gardeners, and The Brother Gardeners, which was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize and awarded the American Horticultural Society Book Award. She has written for The New York Times, the Financial TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. She appears regularly on radio and TV, and in 2014 copresented British Gardens in Time, a four-part series on BBC television.

The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World - Andrea Wulf
Andrea Wulf