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 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.
W. Jeffrey Bolster is Associate 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.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.