W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize

2018 Citation Recipient


Erika Monahan

The 2018 W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prizes is awarded to Erika Monahan for The Merchants of Siberia: Trade in Early Modern Eurasia (Cornell University Press)

In this groundbreaking study, Erika Monahan rethinks the role of trade and commerce in early modern Eurasia. Challenging entrenched stereotypes of the Russian state as “backward” in its approach to economic development, she places Siberia into a broader comparative context of mercantilist systems in the early modern world. Drawing on an impressive range of archival and published sources, she looks beyond Western European comparisons to highlight a state that encouraged commerce and trade, and whose expansion was driven more by economic than ideological concerns. Rather than an isolated backwater, Siberia is highlighted as an active player in trade relations of the early modern world, particularly through its connections with Chinese and Central Asian trade routes. With an eye for local detail, she brings to life the various spaces in which trade occurred, from Moscow’s Kitai gorod to Siberian custom posts and seasonal markets like Lake Yamysh, whose salt reserves played an important role in both regional and international arenas. Through detailed sketches of three particular merchant families, she demonstrates the vibrant, multi-ethnic cast of characters who comprised the “merchants of Siberia,” including the highest ranks of Moscow’s merchant elite, Bukharin traders operating in Siberia, and the countless middling traders who actually dominated Siberian trade. Stylistically engaging, The Merchants of Siberia is a fascinating contribution to economic history and to comparative studies of empire, peripheries and borderlands.

Honorable Mention: Jeffrey S. Hardy

Title: The Gulag after Stalin: Redefining Punishment in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union, 1953-1964 (Cornell University Press)

Placing Khrushchev’s reform of the Soviet penal system into the larger comparative framework of global penal reform in the postwar era, Jeffrey Hardy offers an ambitious examination of the role of prisons and punishment in post-Stalin society. Based on a wealth of archival materials from across the former USSR, Hardy demonstrates how the interlinking concerns of economic productivity, desire for reeducation and the need for control served both to shape a new legal framework for punishment based on “socialist legality,” and to restrict the reforms that could actually be implemented. Clearly and succinctly argued, The Gulag After Stalin sheds new light upon the shifting role of the penal system in Soviet society and demonstrates the value of a comparative approach that aligns the policies (and shortcomings) of the Soviet government with other modern regimes.

Honorable Mention: Andy Willimott

Title: Living the Revolution: Urban Communes & Soviet Socialism, 1917-1932 (Oxford University Press)

In Living the Revolution, Andy Willimott offers an intriguing analysis of grassroots initiatives by urban communes to interpret and embody the ideals of the October Revolution in everyday life. By focusing on the experience of urban communes established by student as well as worker enthusiasts, he brings to life the spirit of experimentation and excitement that inspired ordinary Soviet citizens to enact socialist values in their dayto-day lives and revolutionize their own living conditions. Through their attempts to transform the everyday (byt), these enthusiasts promoted their own understandings of the meaning of revolution. Written in a lively, engaging style and drawing together a wide range of scattered sources to reconstruct the urban communes of the 1920s, this elegant book offers a thoughtful reassessment of the role of popular initiative in helping to shape official Soviet policy from 1917 through Stalin’s “Great Break.”