Reginald Zelnik Book Prize in History


Honorable Mention

Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia

Honorable Mention: James Mace Ward
Title: Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia (Cornell University Press)

In this balanced and eloquently presented account Ward asks how a Catholic priest could lead a Central European Slavic state to close alliance with Nazi Germany. To do so he takes us back to the days when Slovakia was embedded in Habsburg rule, and his subject, Jozef Tiso, a product of institutions both Catholic and Hungarian. He traces Tiso’s astounding development: from early supporter of Czechoslovakia to a nationalist leader who helped erode the unified state; to “puppet” leader of a fascist regime who occasionally defied Germany but also ordered the destruction of Slovak Jews as well as the bloody suppression of an uprising for Slovak independence. Ward makes sense of a complex figure while resisting temptations to oversimplify, merging probing exploration of a Christian statesman with analysis of a calculating politician, thus contributing a crucial chapter on Central Europe’s recent past, as well as the most revealing study of clerico-fascism we possess. Ward’s command of an enormous literature as well as unexplored archival sources is inspiring for what it tells of the powers of the historian’s craft.  

Winner: Stephen K. Batalden