Publication Date

March 1, 2002

2001 Awards for Scholarly Distinction

In 1984 the Council of the AHA established an award entitled the American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction. Each year a nominating jury composed of three former presidents recommends to the Council up to three names for the award, and the Council then selects up to three names from the list presented. Nominees are senior historians of the highest distinction in the historical profession who have spent the bulk of their professional careers in the United States. Previous winners include Nettie Lee Benson, Woodrow Borah, Alfred D. Chandler Jr., Angie Debo, Helen G. Edmonds, Felix Gilbert, John Whitney Hall, Tulio Halperín-Donghi, H. Stuart Hughes, Margaret Atwood Judson, George F. Kennan, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Gerhart B. Ladner, Gerda Lerner, Ramsay MacMullen, Arno J. Mayer, August Meier, Edmund Morgan, George L. Mosse, Robert O. Paxton, Earl Pomeroy, H. Leon Prather Sr., Benjamin Quarles, Edwin O. Reischauer, Robert V. Remini, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Caroline Robbins, Carl E. Schorske, Benjamin I. Schwartz, Kenneth M. Setton, Kenneth M. Stampp, Chester G. Starr, Barbara and Stanley Stein, Lawrence Stone, Sylvia L. Thrupp Strayer, Merze Tate, Emma Lou Thornbrough, Brian Tierney, Eugen Weber, Gerhard Weinberg, and George R. Woolfolk.

Joining this distinguished list are Nikki R. Keddie (UCLA) and Ernest R. May (Harvard Univ.). President-elect Hunt read the following citations at the General Meeting.

Nikki R. Keddie's wide-ranging works have inspired generations of teachers and students. Currently professor emerita at UCLA, Keddie received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She belongs to the first generation of Middle East historians trained in history departments, and is the first of them to choose Iranian history. She was president of the Middle East Studies Association (1980–81) and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

She has pioneered in two areas of Middle East studies: the social and intellectual history of the modern Middle East, especially Iran, and gender in Middle East history. Keddie's best-selling book is Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran (Yale University Press, 1981), which has been widely praised by students and scholars, and was a History Book Club selection. It serves both as a modern history and as a convincing explanation, written shortly after the 1979 revolution, of why that revolution occurred and took the course it did. Both this book and her Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891–1892 (Frank Cass and Co., 1966) have been translated into Persian and are being widely read and discussed by the younger generations in Iran. In 1999, her Roots of Revolution was selected as one of the most influential books of the 20th century on modern Iran. Keddie’s studies of the Tobacco Protest and the role of the Pan-Islamist intellectual Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and on major social movements of the Middle East were not only pioneering works at the time of publication, they became more meaningful after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In these works she analyzed a phenomenon that repeated itself both in the 1906 Constitutional Revolution and the 1979 Islamic Revolution. She focused on revolutionary intellectuals, who, allied with traditional clerics and with merchants, helped develop a new religio-political discourse and propelled popular revolutionary movements. Her 1978 groundbreaking Women in the Muslim World (Harvard University Press, co-edited with Lois Beck) literally wrote women back into the field of Middle East studies. This book, and other works that followed, encouraged a generation of women scholars to enter the field of Middle East studies. A brilliant, articulate, and progressive woman with great courage, she has been a key presence at Middle East conferences where she advocates principled positions on crucial political and social issues of our time. A list of her numerous books and articles can be found in the bibliography of her book, Iran and the Muslim World: Resistance and Revolution (New York University Press, 1995).

For more than four decades, Ernest Richard May, the Charles Warren Professor of History at Harvard University, has shaped the study and practice of international history. From his innovative, multiarchival study, The World War and American Isolation, 1914–1917 (Harvard University Press, 1959) to his most recent study, Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France (Hill and Wang, 2000), he has written books and essays, and has edited volumes on every aspect of international history. His continued willingness to explore new avenues of historical thought has profoundly influenced the field.

May's research has long focused on a series of interlocking issues: how does bureaucracy shape and limit policy options, how do historical memories shape policy, how do policy-makers use history, and how can future government leaders be trained to use history fairly and appropriately? Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers (Free Press, 1986), which he coauthored, reflected this interest, and so also has his pioneering work on the study of intelligence and the formation of foreign policy. He has repeatedly stressed the role that academics and the public should play in intelligence assessment, reflecting his deep commitment to liberal values and the need for openness.

May has also contributed to the life of the academic community and the history profession. During the late 1960s and early 1970s he served as dean of Harvard College. His undergraduate and graduate courses have always been popular, while his support of his graduate students has been exemplary. Moreover, in the 1970s he sought to help the history profession deal with the over-abundance of historians at a time when many in the profession chose to ignore the problem.

Ernest May has given a rich legacy to the history profession: innovative research on American foreign policy, path-breaking work on the role of intelligence in the conduct of international relations, and pivotal analyses of the impact of bureaucracy and organizational structures on policy formation. It is indeed appropriate that Ernest May, the dean among international historians not only in America but the world, should receive the AHA's Award for Scholarly Distinction.

Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award

Established in 1986, the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching and advocacy for history teaching at two-year, four-year, and graduate colleges and universities, by commending an inspiring teacher whose pedagogical techniques and mastery of subject matter make a lasting impression and substantial difference to students of history. The prize is named for the late Eugene Asher who was for many years a leading advocate for history teaching. The Society for History Education (SHE) shares with the AHA sponsorship of the award. Members of the AHA and SHE submit nominations to the Committee on Teaching prizes.

The 2001 honoree is Robert Blackey, professor of history at California State University at San Bernardino. The president-elect read the committee’s citation. “During his more than 30-year career at a four-year college, Professor Blackey has exemplified both outstanding pedagogy and effective advocacy for history teaching. As a former student emphasized in nominating him for this award, not only is Professor Blackey “a dynamic speaker and discussion leader, but he enriches his lectures with slides, photographs, art, music, and observations from his travels around the world. He brings the people of history to life through visual and verbal illustrations that humanize them; he also helps students to think historically and to appreciate the larger themes that he weaves throughout his classes.” Through his work as editor of the teaching column in Perspectives, vice president of the Teaching Division, chief reader for Advanced Placement European History, perennial workshop leader, and frequent guest speaker in secondary school classrooms, Professor Blackey has made an outstanding contribution to history teaching.”

Beveridge Family Teaching Award

Established in 1995, this prize honors the Beveridge family's long-standing commitment to the AHA and to K–12 teaching. Friends and family members endowed this award to recognize excellence and innovation in elementary, middle, and secondary school history teaching, including career contributions and specific initiatives. The individual can be recognized either for individual excellence in teaching or for an innovative initiative applicable to the entire field. It is offered on a two-cycle rotation: in even-numbered years, to an individual; in odd-numbered years, to a group. The prize was first offered in 1996. The 2001 prize went to the History Divisionat Oak Park and River Forest High School, Oak Park, Illinois. “Division teachers exemplify excellence and innovation in K–12 history teaching by doing an outstanding job of presenting history as interpretation, showing students how to assess differing interpretations and support their own views with evidence, and, most especially, by taking the initiative to produce an annual journal of student papers, Interpretations. This journal has, indeed, proven to be ‘a special and effective medium that rewards, models, and inspires excellence in the writing of history.’ The committee commends the teachers in the History Division and their journal Interpretations for, as one student put it, instilling in its students ‘a love of history as a subject, a sense of history as a discipline, and an aspiration of pursuing history as a career.'”

William Gilbert Award

Named in memory of William Gilbert, a longtime AHA member and distinguished scholar-teacher at the University of Kansas, the biennial Gilbert Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the teaching of history through the publication of journal and serial articles. The prize was endowed by a generous gift from Mrs. Gilbert. Pieces written by members of the AHA and published in the United States during the two years previous to the award are eligible for consideration. Also, journals, magazines, and other serials that publish works on the teaching of history, including methodology and pedagogical theory, may submit nominations.

The 2001 Gilbert Award was presented to Daniel A. Segal, Pitzer College, for his article “‘Western Civ’ and the Staging of History in American Higher Education,” American Historical Review 105: 3 (June 2000: 770–805). The committee’s citation reads: “Segal’s article stimulates his fellow history teachers to rethink the way they conceptualize Western civilization and world history survey courses. As one of his colleagues wrote in nominating Professor Segal’s article for this award, ‘the value of the article lies both in its skeptical assessment of how new current textbooks really are., and in its fulfillment of its own premise that disciplinary histories really do matter.’ The committee agreed that the article successfully calls attention to three key issues important for understanding the teaching of survey history courses today: ‘the (mis)understandings across disciplines, the mobilization of history education for the sake of national identity formation, and a critical analysis of the creation of survey textbooks.'”

The Gutenberg-e Prizes are intended to encourage and support publication of the best history dissertations, especially in fields where the traditional monograph has become endangered. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded this program to award six prizes a year through 2004. Each prize consists of a $20,000 fellowship to be used by the author for converting the dissertation into an electronic monograph of the highest quality, to be published by Columbia University Press. The prizes for 2001 are awarded in the fields of military history and history of foreign relations to the following authors (in alphabetical order):

Tonio Andrade (SUNY Brockport), for “Commerce, Culture, and Conflict: Taiwan under European Rule, 1623–1662,” Yale University, 2000. The incorporation of Taiwan into the early modern European colonial trading networks, and its subsequent incorporation into the Chinese empire, are topics almost completely unexplored in Western language scholarship. This superb dissertation not only opens them up but does so in an exciting way by exploring the complex interactions between the European trade diasporas and existing patterns of Asian migration and trade. The author is well acquainted with recent and current debates on the critical transformation taking place in the global economy during the late 16th and 17th centuries, and imaginatively covers a broad range of issues. He argues convincingly, and in wonderfully rich detail, that it was Dutch protection that made possible the slow Chinese colonization of Taiwan—and ultimately its incorporation into China. Andrade brilliantly reminds us of how important the brief episode of European occupation was to the future development of Taiwan, including the birth of its sugar industry.

Kenneth W. Estes (independent scholar) for “A European Anabasis: Western European Volunteers in the German Army and SS, 1940–1945,” University of Maryland, 1984. Estes studies the 100,000 West Europeans who fought against Russia as volunteers for the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS. Estes shows tremendous knowledge of combat and writes gripping battlefield prose. Two-thirds of the West European volunteers came from Spain and the Netherlands, yet Estes demonstrates wide range and covers also Flemish, Walloon, French, Danish, and Norwegian combat units. Avoiding over- generalization, the author distinguishes carefully among the Danes and Flemings, the courageous but poorly-armed Spanish, the ill-trained Dutch and French, and the Norwegians. Estes pulverizes the Nazi propaganda notion of a multinational European army defending “Western civilization” against “Bolshevism.” He shows that West Europeans, mainly of the urban working classes, volunteered from a mix of motives and demonstrates that the best-performing foreign legions were trained and led by German officers and formed parts of larger SS units, and also that the Wehrmacht placed little value on foreign formations until its other manpower reserves ran out in 1944–45.

Daniel Kowalsky (Washington Univ. in St. Louis), for “The Soviet Union and the Spanish Republic: Diplomatic, Military, and Cultural Relations, 1936–1939.” University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2001. A solid, broad, and critical work, based on Spanish and Russian archival sources that not only revisits and critiques almost seventy years of Civil-War scholarship but presents new evidence and conclusions on the nature of this strange, and ultimately hapless, bilateral relationship. Using hitherto untapped Soviet records, Kowalsky takes on several contested subjects, such as Stalin’s decision to intervene, his tactics, and strategy based as much on internal as external factors; the reasons for the Soviets’ early successes; the extent of Soviet contributions measured against Spain’s huge gold payments; and the causes of the Soviets’ defeats and withdrawals and the republic’s failures after 1937. A fine, traditional history, it is spiritedly written, meticulously documented, and convincingly argued.

Sanders Marble (independent scholar), for “The Infantry Cannot Do with a Gun Less”: The Place of the Artillery in the BEF, 1914–1918.” King’s College, University of London, 1998. A major work in its own right, and in the context of a growing body of literature on the institutional development of the BEF during WWI. That has often been called an artillery war, but Marble’s dissertation shows that the gunners conceptualized their role as a supporting arm, part of a “fire and movement’ structure designed to move other arms forward. Artillery, in other words, was only one element of a larger production. Well-researched and well-reasoned, Marble’s work shows that while the artillery’s tools and methods changed almost beyond recognition, the arm’s place in the army’s “military culture” remained consistent, never asserting the French paradigm of “artillery conquering, infantry occupying.” The artillery cooperated because that was the fastest way to win the war.

Christopher O' Sullivan (Santa Rosa Junior Coll.), for “Sumner Welles, Postwar Planning, and the Quest for a New World Order, 1937–1943.” LSE, University of London, 1999. Can new research still fundamentally change our view of American foreign policies in World War II? O’Sullivan’s remarkable study of Undersecretary Sumner Welles shows that it can. Irwin Gellman’s Secret Affairs and Benjamin Welles’s FDR’s Global Strategist, both appearing in the last few years, milked the Welles papers to chronicle the rivalry with Secretary Hull and the sexual scandal that led to Welles’s departure from government. O’Sullivan takes the sexual pecadillos for granted and concentrates on Welles’s world view, especially as the undersecretary laid it out for the Political Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Postwar Foreign Policy in 1942–43. It turns out that Harley Notter’s anodyne 1949 official publication, Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, doesn’t tell the half of it. O’Sullivan portrays Welles as coldly hostile to all the West European powers—Allies as much as enemies—and resolved to create a global Pax Americana on the Monroe Doctrine model after the war. Given FDR’s tendency to rely on Welles’s advice, at least until the fall of 1943 and to some extent beyond, this study may eventually promote a new look at U.S. war aims.

Kenneth Steuer, (Indiana Univ.), for “Pursuit of an ‘Unparalleled Opportunity’: The American YMCA and Prisoner of War Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations during World War I, 1914–1923,” University of Minnesota, 1998. Comprehensively researched, this analysis sheds fresh light on both the general subject of WWI prisoners of war, and the role of the first NGO, the YMCA. The author is particularly successful in demonstrating the Y’s role in the increasingly chaotic conditions of East Europe, and merits credit as well for his insight into the synergy of Christian witness and secular tough-mindedness that informed the best of the Y’s people.

John O'Connor Film Award

In recognition of his exceptional role as a pioneer in both teaching and research regarding film and history, the American Historical Association established this award in honor of John E. O'Connor of the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The award seeks to recognize outstanding interpretations of history through the medium of film or video. Essential elements are stimulation of thought, imaginative use of the media, effective presentation of information and ideas, sensitivity to modern scholarship, and accuracy. The production should encourage viewers to ask questions about historical interpretations as well as make a contribution to the understanding of history.

The ninth O'Connor Award was presented to Stranger with a Camera, directed by Elizabeth Barret and co-produced with Appalshop and Kentucky Educational Television, produced in association with Independent Television Service. The president elect read the following citation. “This 60-minute documentary describes the 1967 murder of a Canadian filmmaker by a Kentucky landowner. Barret’s film historicizes Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty; she records the landowner’s bitterness over yet another expose of Appalachian poverty; she also records the bitterness still felt by the victim’s assistant producer: the murderer was freed after one year in prison. Calvin Trillin reads excerpts from his 1969 New Yorker article about the murder. This reflective film asks viewers to think about tensions involving the public’s right to know versus the individual’s right to dignity. Barret reminds us that our analytical tools dissect real lives, and in so doing, inflict real pain.”

Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award

In recognition of Nancy Lyman Roelker's role as a teacher, scholar, and committee member of the historical profession, and on the occasion of her 75th birthday, friends, colleagues, and former students established the Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award. The annual award recognizes and encourages a special quality exemplified by Professor Roelker through the human component in her teaching of history.

Mentoring should encompass not only a belief in the value of the study of history but also a commitment to and a love of teaching it to students regardless of age or career goals. Advising is an essential component, but it also combines a consistent personal commitment by the mentor to the student as a person. Offering a human alternative, frequently in quiet and unacknowledged ways, mentors like Roelker believe that the essence of history lies in its human scope. With this award, the American Historical Association attests to the special role of mentors to the future of the historical profession.

The award is given on a three-cycle rotation to graduate, undergraduate, and secondary school teacher mentors. Nominations for the 2001 prize were for the secondary school level. President elect Hunt read the following citations: "Barry W. Bienstock, Horace Mann School, Bronx, New York, and Margaret A. McKee, Castilleja School, Palo Alto, California, are the recipients of the 10th annual Roelker Mentorship Award.

"Letters written in support of the nomination of Barry Bienstock demonstrate not only the immediate impact he had on students in the classroom, but also the enduring relationships he has forged with many. Throughout his career, Bienstock has demonstrated an impressive level of academic involvement with his students, and encouraged independent academic pursuits while challenging them in the classroom. Letters on his behalf speak of a passion coupled with knowledge that excites students about the richness of history. Beyond the lasting bonds he forged with his students, he also demonstrated the ability to encourage a significant number of students to pursue careers in history. Some of the letters of support were from people who took classes over a decade ago and still maintain close contacts and active engagement with Bienstock. Among the many accolades he received from students, one in particular commented that he “…made me feel brave, secure, that my ideas were worth exploring..” Another affirmed, “He challenged us to analyze historical problems, he never settled for the easiest answer. He helped us to read critically, helping us to identify and evaluate authors’ arguments and helping us create our own.

"Letters written on behalf of Margaret McKee underscore her untiring engagement with her students, as well as her unending support for younger teachers embarking on careers in the history profession. Throughout her own personal career she has constantly challenged herself by embracing new ideas and new areas of study, developing innovative classes, and grappling with the role of technology in the classroom. Students praised her for bringing history alive in the classroom, while at the same time promoting critical thinking and the writing skills needed to convey ideas clearly and concisely. Comments from her students vividly illustrated how she “blends love of history with the rigor of the discipline.” Another stated, “Peggy literally lives and breathes history.” As important, another student commented that she “…made power less mysterious and knowledge more accessible to many young women.” One former student typified the attitude of most, indicating, “Her high standards for writing, thinking, and analyzing taught me the foundations on which I have built my career as a historian.

"The nominations of Mr. Bienstock and Ms. McKee reflect the deep impact both teachers had, not merely on one class, but rather on several generations of students."

Honorary Foreign Member

At its second annual meeting in Saratoga in 1885, the AHA accepted the recommendation of the newly appointed Committee on Nominations for Honorary Membership and appointed Leopold von Ranke as the first honorary foreign member. Previously selected biennially, selection is now made annually, honoring a foreign scholar who is distinguished in his or her field and who has "notably aided the work of American historians.

President-elect Hunt announced the addition of Yevgeny Yazkov of Russia, and read the following citation: “Yevgeny Yazkov, professor of American history in the Department of Modern and Comparative History at Moscow State University, is recognized for his service to American researchers and Fulbright lecturers in Moscow, as well as his writings on New Deal agricultural policy.

"Yazkov entered the history faculty at Moscow State University following service in the Soviet Army during the Second World War. Over time he rose through the ranks to become head of the department in 1983. Yazkov's specific area of expertise focuses on New Deal agricultural policies, and he has produced a number of major works of Soviet historiography dealing with this period of American history. These include the article "Agricultural Policy of the Roosevelt Administration and the Farmers' Movement in the United States in 1933–1935," published in Modern and Contemporary History in 1957; books such as The Strike Movement of the Agricultural Proletariat in the United States in 1929–1935 and The Farm Movement in the United States (1918–1929); and editorial work on Social Structure and Social Movements in the Countries of Europe and America; as well as Moscow State University’s annual publication, Problems of American Studies. Over the years, Yazkov has taken the lead in developing the wider field of American Studies in Russia, making sure that it contains a strong history component. In 1995 Professor Yazkov hosted a founding conference on American studies at Moscow State University that drew Russian historians from as far away as central Siberia.

"As one of the leading Americanists at Moscow State University, he frequently provides help and hospitality for specialists in American history studying in the Soviet Union. He and his wife Marina have been and continue to be especially supportive of the annual visit of the Fulbright Lecturers in the History Department at Moscow State University. Since 1974 an American scholar has taught American history each spring to students at the university. The success of the program is due in no small measure to his tireless efforts.

"Over the years he and his wife have offered their hospitality to the strangers from America. Within the department, Professor Yazkov has organized relays of graduate students to assist the visitors with the mundane daily details of shopping for food and other necessities in a society where English is still rarely spoken outside of academic circles. Under Professor Yazkov's direction, graduate students have helped visiting scholars figure out the Metro system, tour Moscow's famous buildings and museums, purchase ballet and concert tickets, and perform many other tasks. Professor Yazkov and the other members of the faculty have made the American visitors at home intellectually and well as physically, and have always been eager to arrange and participate in academic discussions about American history. The students whom Professor Yazkov and his colleagues selected for the American history program have been among Russia's most outstanding young people. Thanks to Professor Yazkov's organization and unfailing hospitality, many Fulbright scholars regard their time in Russia as a highlight of their academic careers.

"For his scholarship and service, Yevgeny Yazkov has earned selection as the 2001 honorary foreign member."

2001 Book Awards

At the annual meeting in San Francisco, the following prizes were announced for the year 2001. The prize citations are recorded below.

Herbert Baxter Adams Prize

Malachi Haim Hacohen (Duke Univ.) for Karl Popper—The Formative Years, 1902–1945: Politics and Philosophy in Interwar Vienna (Cambridge University Press, 2000). Hacohen’s stunning intellectual biography of Karl Popper (1902–1994) restores the young Popper and his philosophy of science and society to three formative contexts: Jewish assimilation in progressive, socialist, cosmopolitan Vienna; the political, psychological, pedagogical, and philosophical debates in interwar Austria; and the work on historicism, totalitarianism, and liberalism that Popper did during his New Zealand exile to 1945. Hacohen demonstrates in the wake of poststructuralism how Popper convincingly provides philosophical grounding for scientific inquiry and a nonfoundationalist argument for universal norms to guide social action, preserve human rights, and sustain a cosmopolitan vision.

Prize in Atlantic History

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (State Univ. of New York at Buffalo) for How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford University Press, 2001). In this book, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra offers a strikingly original and highly insightful analysis of a hitherto little-known intellectual battle waged on both sides of the Atlantic in the 18th-century: the historiographical debates over the origins of the New World. He examines the “truth,” validity, and cultural authority of various kinds of historical evidence supporting these debates. In the course of taking readers through the so-called disputes of the New World, the author establishes the existence of relatively sophisticated American-based discourses, centered in New Spain, pertaining to history, historiography, epistemology, and, ultimately American identity. In so doing, he succeeds not only in rendering more complex our view of intellectual life in New Spain during the late colonial period, but also, more broadly, in challenging conventions and stereotypes about Latin America associated with and privileged by writers from the North Atlantic World.

George Louis Beer Prize

John Connelly (Univ. of California at Berkeley) for Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945–1956 (University of North Carolina Press, 2000). Written from a comparative perspective and based on extraordinary multinational and multiarchival research, John Connelly’s Captive University details the complexities of relations between the USSR and its satellite states, shows the impact of different national histories on the process of Stalinization, demonstrates the long shadow cast by the Second World War on communist regimes, and illuminates the dilemmas of resistance and accommodation under totalitarian rule. The result is a fascinating history of the formative years of the era of communist domination in east-central Europe.

Albert J. Beveridge Award

Alexander Keyssar (Duke Univ.) for The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (Basic Books, 2000). Alexander Keyssar’s The Right to Vote is a magisterial and timely account of one of the most hard-won and oft-circumscribed of American rights. Drawing on a meticulous reconstruction of state voting requirements over two centuries, Keyssar acutely details the shaping of suffrage requirements by the politics of class, as well as the more familiar stories of the enfranchisement of African Americans and women. Throughout, he vividly demonstrates that the road to expansive American voting rights has traced a bumpy, meandering, and contingent path.

James Henry Breasted Prize

Barry Cunliffe (Univ. of Oxford) for Facing the Ocean: The Atlantic and Its Peoples, 8000 b.c.–a.d. 1500 (Oxford University Press, 2001). This remarkable book impressed the committee because of its conceptual ambition, erudition, broad chronological span, stunning visual program, and felicitous prose. Drawing primarily on material evidence, Cunliffe argues persuasively that the peoples of the northern Atlantic world shared a common core of practical knowledge and a sophisticated belief system that arose millennia before the common era and that evolved in coherent and traceable ways until the Europeans launched their global domination at the dawn of the modern era. The lands that border the North Atlantic, that Face the Ocean, have never been treated at such length, or with such coherence and cogency. No reader of this book will again think easily of Europe’s evolution from a Mediterranean ancestor.

John H. Dunning Prize

Ernest Freeberg (Colby-Sawyer Coll.) for The Education of Laura Bridgman: First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language (Harvard University Press, 2001). This book is a beautifully crafted narrative of the relationship between antebellum reformer Samuel Gridley Howe and his celebrated deaf and blind pupil. Placing Bridgman’s attainment of language in the context of the social, philosophical, and religious controversies of the mid-nineteenth century, Freeberg perceptively anatomizes a complex relationship at once exploitative and tender, in which Bridgman became not merely the product of Howe’s pedagogy but his full and sometimes recalcitrant partner in their remarkable accomplishments.

John Edwin Fagg Prize

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra (State Univ. of New York at Buffalo) for How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford University Press, 2001). How to Write the History of the New World, a masterful and innovative analysis of 18th-century world views, is a strongly argued appraisal of self-awareness and the construction of identities in Spain and Spanish America. Spanning the Atlantic and connecting political, intellectual, and scientific histories, Cañizares’s erudite examination of the rise of “patriotic epistemologies” illuminates the complexity of late baroque thought in the Spanish empire.

John K. Fairbank Prize

Peter Zinoman (Univ. of California at Berkeley) for The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam, 1862–1940 (University of California Press, 2001). Peter Zinoman’s rigorously researched, thought-provoking study, TheColonial Bastille, sheds new light on Vietnamese history, showing how imprisonment molded revolutionaries’ political identity and shaped the course of social revolution. Its prisoner-centered gaze reshapes our understanding of carceral institutions, in particular within colonial relationships. And its nuanced testing of colonial studies’ theory and methodology against rich archival sources deepens both colonial and East Asian historiography by bringing Vietnam into the discussion of colonial practices.

Herbert Feis Award

Benjamin Filene (Minnesota Historical Society) for Romancing the Folk: Public Memory and American Roots Music (University of North Carolina Press, 2001). This deeply researched and wide-ranging study on the roots of 20th-century American musical traditions explores the spectrum of actors instrumental in sustaining the vitality of folk music in the United States. Filene carefully contextualizes the folk tradition and its meaning within the broad forces that characterize the contested terrain of culture. He makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the nature of consumer culture and the relationship between artists, audiences, and the culture industry.

Morris D. Forkosch Prize

Richard Drayton (Corpus Christi Coll., Univ. of Cambridge) for Nature's Government: Science, Imperial Britain and the "Improvement" of the World (Yale University Press, 2000). Richard Drayton’s Nature's Government is a sweeping, imaginative, skillfully crafted, well-written, and beautifully illustrated book. Drayton uses botany and London’s Kew Gardens as a lens to examine the role of science in empire and the relationship of science to the state. Far more than a history of a garden, Nature's Government integrates Christianity, political economy, and party politics into a fascinating narrative of the British Empire’s triumphs and failures.

Leo Gershoy Award

Jonathan Israel (Institute for Advanced Study) for The Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650–1750 (Oxford University Press, 2001). Jonathan Israel’s The Radical Enlightenment offers fresh perspectives on a number of fundamental questions about the development of the new mental outlook that characterized the late 17th and 18th centuries. Israel argues for the centrality of the Dutch Republic in this process, and for the fundamental impact of the philosophical thought of Benedict Spinoza. His encyclopedic knowledge of the period enables him to demonstrate the impact of Spinozism, not only in the Netherlands, but throughout the European republic of letters. Israel’s impressive research spans the continent, from Spain to Scandinavia, and allows him to challenge a standard narrative that locates the origins of the Enlightenment in the English tradition of Locke and Newton. No future study of the origins of modern European thought will be able to overlook Israel’s work.

Clarence Haring Prize

Hilda Sabato (Univ. of Buenos Aires) for La política en las calles: Entre el voto y la movilización; Buenos Aires, 1862–1880 (Editorial Sudamericana, 1998). Hilda Sabato’s La política en las calles provides the best example of the growing interest in political history in Latin America in the last quarter century. She explores the tension between a centrally designed electoral system in Argentina and a multifaceted response from the press and numerous sectoral, ethnic, and advocacy associations seeking to influence the political process between the years 1862 and 1880. Whereas earlier political histories tended to assume the exclusion of the popular sectors from the voting process, Sabato demonstrates that there was no formal effort to disenfranchise illiterate or propertyless males. But elections had little capacity to alter the distribution of political power, shifting the dynamics of the public sphere to other forms of representation and protest. Sabato’s book is a superb historical piece, produced by a historian in full command of her craft. Her research is supported by an astonishing range of sources, offering intellectual inspiration and guidance to an already vibrant field.

Joan Kelly Memorial Prize

Laura Wexler (Yale Univ.) for Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism (University of North Carolina Press, 2000). Tender Violence examines the works of early women photographers as texts that demonstrates the myriad ways domestic rhetoric and imagery furthered U.S. imperial ventures. In deconstructing purported aims to “uplift” people of color at the turn of the 20th-century, Wexler unearths political implications behind the beautifully posed portraits of “ordinary” people. In elegant prose she argues that these images “…helped shape our current violent predicaments of race, class, and gender.”

Waldo G. Leland Prize

American National Biography, 24 vols. General Editors John A. Garraty (Columbia Univ.) and Mark C. Carnes (Barnard Coll., Columbia Univ.), (Oxford University Press under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies, 1999). The 24 volumes of the American National Biography are distinguished by interpretive excellence, broad scope, and usefulness to a wide range of audiences. Individual biographical essays are often little gems, written by just the historian one would want to hear from on the subject. Based as they are on primary sources and current scholarship, the essays are valuable resources for specialist scholars as well as up-to-date introductions for students. Both reference tool and scholarly contribution, the ANB is an outstanding accomplishment.

Littleton-Griswold Prize

Karl Jacoby (Brown Univ.) for Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (University of California Press, 2001). This superb study of the creation of the Adirondack, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon Parks forces us to rethink the history of the conservation movement by detailing the experiences of the Native Americans and impoverished settlers who found their traditional uses of these lands suddenly designated as crimes. Jacoby’s analysis is attentive to the complexities of each case, yet at the same time offers broad and convincing generalizations about the redistribution of property rights that protecting nature involved.

J. Russell Major Prize

Deborah L. Silverman (Univ. of California at Los Angeles) for Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000). Silverman’s elegant juxtaposition of two key figures of French art is the point of departure for a richly contextualized reading of the cultural milieu of 19th-century France. It analyzes the complex ways in which Gauguin, a Catholic, and Van Gogh, a Protestant, reworked their deeply religious formations into forms of modern sacrality. It both challenges the easy clichés about the relationship of modernity to spiritual aspiration and opens up new methodologies for exploring modern France.

Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize

Ronald G. Witt (Duke Univ.) for In the Footsteps of the Ancients: The Origins of Italian Humanism from Lovato to Bruni (Brill Academic Publishers, 2000). Impressively researched and argued, Ronald G. Witt’s In the Footsteps of the Ancients offers a powerful new interpretation of the origins of Italian humanism. Based on a very extensive knowledge of primary and secondary sources and on a sophisticated understanding of the working of language and the importance of style, it convincingly argues that Italian humanism began as a secular movement well before Petrarch in a number of northern Italian cities in the 13th-century. While showing the importance of translation and stylistic imitation in producing the changes in cognition and even visual perception associated with Renaissance humanism, it is not oblivious to the political context in which humanist culture provided new models for divided polities. Witt’s is a major contribution to cultural history of the Italian peninsula in the 13th to 15th centuries and to our understanding of Renaissance humanism.

George L. Mosse Prize

Lionel Gossman (Princeton Univ.) for Basel in the Age of Burckhardt: A Study in Unseasonable Ideas (University of Chicago Press, 2000). In this remarkable work, Lionel Gossman shows how Basel confronted modernity, a confrontation that, for four prominent thinkers, engendered ideas that were “unseasonable” by the standard of their own age, and in some ways still are today. In so doing, the author, using Jacob Burckhardt as a point of reference, shows how perceptions of changing times could summon forth such ideas on the parts of individuals who had their very own respective, singular concerns and agendas. Besides Burckhardt, Gossman considers Johannn Jacob Bachoften, Friederich Nietzsche, and Franz Overbeck. In a text written in a masterly fashion, infused throughout with a balance of analytical acuity and empathic understanding, he shows how seemingly “abstract” concerns can be—in fact, have to be—related to salient issues of everyday life. In this truly extraordinary work, Gossman has established standards that will serve henceforth as examples for intellectual historians.

Wesley-Logan Prize

Eric Arnesen (Univ. of Illinois at Chicago) for Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality (Harvard University Press, 2001). Brotherhoods of Color is an extraordinary contribution to African American history, labor history, and the story of the search for racial justice in modern America. This remarkable and sweeping history explores the many vicissitudes of black railroad workers’ quest for equality. By placing labor organization at the center of black history, Eric Arnesen reveals the complex and powerful relationship between the struggle for workplace rights and the struggle for civil rights.

— is AHA convention director and assistant director for administration.

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