Columbia Announces 2013 Bancroft Prize Winners

March 18, 2013Bookmark and Share

Columbia University announced today that two acclaimed works will be awarded the 2013 Bancroft Prize: a gripping and eloquent history of the human impact on the ocean, and a persuasively argued history of the idea that conflict among nations can be regulated by law.

The winners are W. Jeffrey Bolster for The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012) and John Fabian Witt for Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Free Press, 2012).

The Mortal Sea by W. Jeffrey Bolster

The winning works, while different in subject matter, demonstrate the powerful impact of re-examination of historical events in an ever-changing, ever-evolving world.

The Bancroft Prize is awarded annually by the trustees of Columbia University. Winners are judged in terms of the scope, significance, depth of research and richness of interpretation they present in the areas of American history and diplomacy. There were 223 books nominated that were considered for the 2013 prize.

Columbia Provost John H. Coatsworth will present the awards at the Bancroft Prize dinner next month, hosted by the department of history and Columbia University Libraries. The Bancroft Prize, which includes an award of $10,000 to each author, is administered by University Librarian and Vice President for Information Services, James G. Neal.

“Historical scholarship with innovative and new and rigorous examinations and exciting boundary challenges, as evidenced by the content and scope of this year's Bancroft Prize winners, is so worthy of our celebration and recognition. We applaud the excellence in research, writing and thought demonstrated by the two works selected this year,” Neal said.

Lincoln's Code by John Fabian Witt

W. Jeffrey Bolster Associate is Professor of History in the Department of History at the University of New Hampshire. He has published widely on the interaction of people with the sea and is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Excellence in Public Service Award from UNH in 2005. The Mortal Sea grew out of his decade-long involvement with the Census of Marine Life, an interdisciplinary, international research project working on marine environmental history and historical ecology globally.

John Fabian Witt is Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School. In 2010 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for his project on the laws of war in American history. Professor Witt is a graduate of Yale Law School and Yale College and he holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale. Before returning to Yale, he was the George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History at Columbia University.

The Bancroft Prize was established at Columbia University in 1948 with a bequest from Frederic Bancroft, a preeminent historian, librarian, author and Columbia University lecturer. It is considered one of the most distinguished academic awards in the field of history.

—by Nick Obourn

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Milestones

Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies Rashid Khalidi, won the 2014 Lionel Trilling Book Award for Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.

Allison Lewko, assistant professor of computer science, was named to the annual Forbes 30 under 30 list in the science and health care category for her work designing encryption algorithms and keeping data secure.

Victor P. Goldberg, Jerome L. Greene Professor of Transactional Law, has been elected to the American Law Institute.

The Record