Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies

2021 Citation Recipient


Molly Pucci

The Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies (formerly the ASEEES Orbis Book Prize), established in 1996 and sponsored by the Kulczycki family, is awarded annually for the best book in any discipline, on any aspect of Polish affairs, published in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Molly Pucci
Title: Security Empire: The Secret Police in Communist Eastern Europe (Yale University Press).

Molly Pucci’s Security Empire is a work of exemplary social history, reconstructing the lives and communities of everyday people who signed up to build communism only to emerge as the rank-and-file of the infamous state security apparatuses of communist Central and Eastern Europe. By setting Poland in conversation with Czechoslovakia and East Germany, Pucci sets herself an audacious task of comparative history, and she achieves a remarkable, richly sourced result. Security Empire carries insights for a broad readership, extending far beyond the field of Polish studies, into abuses of state security apparatuses that persist through the present day.

Honorable Mention: Adam Teller
Title: Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century (Princeton University Press).

Adam Teller’s Rescue the Surviving Souls is a compellingly written and organized narrative that brings the seventeenth century to life with a brilliant combination of economic, social, and political history of Polish Jewry moving across the borders of several early modern European empires. Offering a close reading of an extraordinarily diverse source base drawing on twelve languages, Teller productively and importantly reframes what had been understood as Jewish migration as a timeless story of global crisis, forced migration, and violence against refugees.