The nominees for the Cundill History Prize have been announced. The prize is awarded annually to the book that best embodies historical scholarship, originality, literary quality, and broad appeal.
“It is impossible to understand China today without understanding the Cultural Revolution,” Tania Branigan writes. During this decade of Maoist fanaticism between 1966 and 1976, children turned on parents, students condemned teachers, and as many as two million people died for their supposed political sins, while tens of millions were hounded, ostracized, and imprisoned. Yet in China this brutal and turbulent period exists, for the most part, as an absence; official suppression and personal trauma have conspired in national amnesia.
Red Memory uncovers forty years of silence through the stories of individuals who lived through the madness. Deftly exploring how this era defined a generation and continues to impact China today, Branigan asks: What happens to a society when you can no longer trust those closest to you? What happens to the present when the past is buried, exploited, or redrawn? And how do you live with yourself when the worst is over?
Queens of a Fallen World: The Lost Women of Augustine’s Confessions by Kate Cooper
While many know of Saint Augustine and his Confessions, few are aware of how his life and thought were influenced by women.
Queens of a Fallen World tells a story of betrayal, love, and ambition in the ancient world as seen through a woman’s eyes. Historian Kate Cooper introduces us to four women whose hopes and plans collided in Augustine’s early adulthood: his mother, Monnica of Thagaste; his lover; his fiancée; and Justina, the troubled empress of ancient Rome. Drawing upon their depictions in the Confessions, Cooper skilfully reconstructs their lives against the backdrop of their fourth-century society. Though they came from different walks of life, each found her own way of prevailing in a world ruled by men.
A refreshingly complex and compelling portrait of Augustine, Queens of a Fallen World is the riveting story of four remarkable women who set him on course to change history.
Charged: A History of Batteries and Lessons for a Clean Energy Future by James Morton Turner
To achieve fossil fuel independence, few technologies are more important than batteries. Used for powering zero-emission vehicles, storing electricity from solar panels and wind turbines, and revitalizing the electric grid, batteries are essential to scaling up the renewable energy resources that help address global warming. But given the unique environmental impact of batteries―including mining, disposal, and more―does a clean energy transition risk trading one set of problems for another?
In Charged, James Morton Turner unpacks the history of batteries to explore why solving “the battery problem” is critical to a clean energy transition. As climate activists focus on what a clean energy future will create―sustainability, resiliency, and climate justice―the history of batteries offers a sharp reminder of what building that future will consume: lithium, graphite, nickel, and other specialized materials. With new insight on the consequences for people and communities on the front lines, Turner draws on the past for crucial lessons that will help us build a just and clean energy future, from the ground up.