Reginald Zelnik Book Prize in History

2022 Citation Recipient

Vladislav Zubok

The Reginald Zelnik Book Prize in History, established in 2009 and sponsored by the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eastern Europe or Eurasia in the field of history in the previous calendar year.

Co-Winner: Vladislav Zubok

Title: The Collapse: The End of the Soviet Union (Yale University Press)

Vladislav Zubok’s The Collapse: The End of the Soviet Union takes a topic that has been the subject of dozens, if not hundreds, of monographs, edited volumes, and memoirs and tells it from a compelling, fresh perspective. For Zubok, the disintegration of the USSR was neither inevitable nor the result of popular resistance but rather the self-imposed failure of Mikhail Gorbachev, his team of reformers, their reluctance to use the power of the state to prevent collapse, serious mistakes in economic policy, and the lack of effective support for perestroika from the West. Using archives, oral histories, and interviews, as well as the burgeoning literature on the end of state socialism, Zubok’s unique perspective and local knowledge provide a masterful, sensitive account written with a wide audience in mind. Appreciating both the possibilities left in the Soviet system as well as its chronic pathologies, Zubok illuminates a world-historical moment that, for millions, was an experience of liberation and, for others, the tragic loss of the future for which they had hoped.

Co-Winner: Andrew Kornbluth

Title: The August Trials: The Holocaust and Postwar Justice in Poland (Harvard University Press)

Based upon a scrupulous reading of newly available documents from postwar trials of Nazi war criminals and their collaborators, Andrew Kornbluth’s The Holocaust and Postwar Justice in Poland is a revelatory tour de force. In frequently painful detail, it reveals Polish collaboration with the Nazi butchery of Jews to have been both more violent and more widespread than previously thought, while at the same time tracing the development of the myth of heroic Polish resistance to the Nazi occupation as it took shape in the post-war period—a myth that differed little, the author shows, from post-war myths that circulate elsewhere in formerly Nazi-occupied Europe. Kornbluth has produced a beautifully written book.