Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize

2022 Citation Recipient

Faith Hillis

Utopia’s Discontents: Russian Émigrés and the Quest for Freedom, 1830s-1930s

Established in 1983, the Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, sponsored by the Association for Slavic Studies, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) and the Stanford University Center for Russian and East European Studies, is awarded annually for the most important contribution to Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences published in English in the United States in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Faith Hillis
Title: Utopia’s Discontents: Russian Émigrés and the Quest for Freedom, 1830s-1930s (Oxford University Press)

After considering many wonderful and wonderfully written books, the 2022 Wayne S. Vucinich prize committee presents this year’s award to Faith Hillis’s Utopia’s Discontents: Russian Emigres and the Quest for Freedom, 1830s–1930s. Hillis’s book is an exemplary work of archival, interdisciplinary, intellectual, and social history. It reads in a beautiful, novel-like way that illustrates how decades of radical Russian individuals and communities lived their utopian hopes and dreams while in exile and how this experience shaped subsequent global history. We walk the streets of Geneva with Lenin, enter Yiddish newspaper offices in London, and hear the often-heated arguments of Russian radicals in meetings across Europe. Along the way, the reader is led to revise their understanding of the origins of the Bolshevik Revolution, modern Zionism, and European and American leftist politics. We thought we knew these stories, or at least their important components and players, but Hillis’s magisterial study unveils a wealth of new details and connections that, together, constitute a powerful argument for the roles of community, friendships, and contingency in the histories of Bolshevism and modern radical social movements.