Prestigious Wolfson History Prize 2020 shortlist revealed

World history dominates the shortlist for the best historical works of the year

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We always like to keep an eye on the Wolfson History Prize as its nominees for the best works of history from the previous year are often some of the most groundbreaking and insightful works you can hope to read.

This year is no different and is notable for having five of its six nominees focused on world history outside of the more popular spheres of study. Here’s who has made the final cut, with comments from the judging panel.

The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans (Allen Lane) by David Abulafia

“A remarkable book which through immense and impeccable research helps us to understand humanity’s relationship with the waters on which our future depends. A sweeping global survey.”

A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths (Allen Lane) by John Barton

 “This is a wise and wide-ranging work that offers exciting new perspectives on a book which has inspired both bloody conflicts and profound wisdom.”

A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (Allen Lane) by Toby Green

“A game-changing book which brings previously unpublished sources and a largely overlooked subject to our attention with a passionate urgency.”

Cricket Country: An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire (Oxford University Press) by Prashant Kidambi

“A superbly executed social history that defies the usual boundaries of the ‘history of sport’ genre to tell a story of empire and identity at the start of the 20th century.”

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (Doubleday) by Hallie Rubenhold

“A brilliantly original piece of moving, investigative detective work which revolutionises our view of one of the best-known episodes in modern British history.”

Chaucer: A European Life (Princeton University Press) by Marion Turner

“A quite exceptional biography that with imaginative insight and stylish wit, sets one of the most significant figures in English literary history firmly in a European context.”

The winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2020 will be announced on Monday 15th June 2020 in a virtual ceremony. The winner of the Wolfson History Prize, the most valuable non-fiction writing prize in the UK, will be awarded £40,000, with each of the shortlisted authors receiving £4,000.

You can also look forward to seeing some more about some of these books and conversations with their authors in upcoming issues of All About History.

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