Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize


Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention: Valerie Kivelson
TItle: Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia (Cornell University Press)

Kivelson’s is a fascinating history, with a powerful argument well situated in the theoretical literature on witchcraft from anthropology and social history.  The book is especially effective in teaching us about ideologies and discourses of class and class injury in the seventeenth century, much of it strikingly relevant to the present. The notion of a fraying social order that pervades the book is absolutely compelling. No less so is the discussion of torture – a history of which has never been recorded so meticulously for Russia. In Kivelson’s assessment, gender is not as important as some other categories of analysis. This is as courageous as it is persuasive. Beautifully written, the book is an absolute page-turner.

Honorable Mention: Derek Sayer
Title: Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press)

Rich in associative exuberance, Derek Sayer’s book offers a thoroughly new perspective on Prague’s twentieth century and even Europe’s. The stories of artists, their lives, their loves, their shows, their conflicts, their peregrinations – all make for a wonderful history of surrealism and its intellectual and cultural contexts in twentieth-century Europe. The erudition is spectacular. The themes of modernisms and metamorphoses are handled with great deftness, and the chapter on architecture is simply splendid.

Winner: Kate Brown