Wolfson History Prize winner 2023 announced

14 November 2023
Halik Kochansk, winner of the 2023 Wolfson History Prize
Independent historian Halik Kochansk has been announced as the winner of Wolfson History Prize for her book 'Resistance: The Underground War in Europe, 1939-45'.

Halik Kochanski was named the winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2023 at a ceremony at Claridge’s in London, out of a shortlist of five other works considered for the UK’s most prestigious history writing prize.

What is the Wolfson History Prize?

Celebrating the best historical non-fiction books from the past year, the Wolfson History Prize is the most valuable history writing prize in the UK, awarding a total of £75,000. The winner receives £50,000, and each of the five shortlisted authors receives £5,000.

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Bringing untold accounts of wartime resistance to light, Resistance is the first English-language history of resistance to study the whole of Europe, uncovering human stories that have been overlooked across the continent.

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The book delves into the reasons that people chose to resist the Third Reich and the methods they used, from partisan warfare in the occupied Soviet Union to acts of insurrection in the Netherlands.

In Resistance Halik Kochanski reveals the achievements of ordinary people and the challenges that they faced amid oppression.

David Cannadine, Chair of the Wolfson History Prize judges said: ‘Resistance is impressive in its breadth, blending macro and micro history into a single narrative. This book does more than recount the past; it breathes life into forgotten voices and untold tales of bravery, illuminating the spirit of ordinary people who challenged oppression.

‘Through meticulous research and powerful writing, Halik Kochanski highlights the indomitable courage of those who resisted the Nazis. In our own times of conflict and instability, Resistance is a timely winner of the Wolfson History Prize, and we offer our warmest congratulations to Halik.’

Prize shortlist

The rest of the 2023 shortlist was:

·       African and Caribbean People in Britain: A History by Hakim Adi (Allen Lane)

·       The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe by James Belich (Princeton University Press)

·       The Perils of Interpreting: The Extraordinary Lives of Two Translators between Qing China and the British Empire by Henrietta Harrison (Princeton University Press)

·       Vagabonds: Life on the Streets of Nineteenth Century London by Oskar Jensen (Duckworth Books)

·       Portable Magic: A History of Books and their Readers by Emma Smith (Allen Lane)

For more on the prize, visit the Wolfson History Prize website.

(report and image courtesy Wolfson History Prize)