Albert J. Beveridge Award Recipients
The Albert J. Beveridge Award is given annually for the best book in English on the history of the United States, Latin America, or Canada from 1492 to the present. Books that employ new methodological or conceptual tools or that constitute a significant reinterpretation of an important historical problem are given preference in the awarding of this prize. The award was established on a biennial basis in 1939 and has been awarded annually since 1945.
2015 Beveridge Award
Elizabeth A. Fenn, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People (Hill & Wang)
Fenn achieves a feat once thought impossible: a long durée history of the Mandan, whose horticultural civilization knit the northern plains together for centuries before warfare, epidemics, and environmental pressures thinned their numbers. She accomplishes this feat not only by exhausting the sparse archival sources, but also by tapping the insights of many other disciplines and embracing a narrative strategy that makes the very evidentiary uncertainties she faced a driver of the narrative. A remarkable exercise in historical forensics, Encounters at the Heart of the World is also a model for writing the history of early America from the center of the continent outward.
Greg Grandin, New York Univ.
The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World (Metropolitan Books)
Taking as its launching point the 1805 shipboard rebellion that inspired Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, The Empire of Necessity makes visceral the webs of unfreedom that ensnared the Americas in an age of revolution and liberal ideals. Merging gripping depictions of slave markets and seal islands, Andean crossings and ship decks, it knits hemispheric history into the larger tapestry of global history. As a meditation on the taut ties between dreams of liberty and capitalist entanglements, Grandin’s magnificently researched and multi-layered book is a powerful cautionary tale for our own times.