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Dr Daniel Beer wins prestigious prize for his ground-breaking study of Siberian exile

  • Date17 November 2017

Dr Daniel Beer from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London has today (17 November) been awarded the international Cundill History Prize for his book The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars. The book is a detailed look at how the Tsarist regime exiled more than one million prisoners and their families beyond the Ural Mountains to Siberia.


Dr Daniel Beer


Professor Kate Cooper, Head of the Department of History at Royal Holloway, said: "We are over the moon at the news that Daniel's fantastic book has received such a wonderful sign of international recognition. Part of the thrill of studying History at Royal Holloway is the chance students get to work closely with star historians like Daniel, and they are as proud as I am of his success."

The unanimous choice

The Cundill History Prize rewards the best history writing in English and is judged by a panel of historians and authors. Choosing from 300 submissions, this year's jury unanimously agreed that The House of the Dead stood above formidable competition as a work of history that delivers exceptional scholarship in a relevant and accessible read.

Professor Margaret MacMillan, Chair of the Jury, said: "Daniel Beer has done extraordinary research, using underappreciated and unexamined sources, to show what exile meant to generations of Russians and other nationalities within the Russian Empire. He gives a moving and heart-rending account of what happened to these people, most of whom never returned from Siberia. The House of the Dead is a haunting and important contribution to Russian history, and hugely deserving winner of the 2017 Cundill History Prize."

Accessible and extraordinary

Dr Beer, Reader in the Department of History at Royal Holloway, is the first British winner of the prize since 2010. Run by Canada’s McGill University, the international Cundill History Prize is a prestigious award, with a prize of US $75,000, given annually to the book that embodies historical scholarship, originality, literary quality and broad appeal.

Juror Roy Foster, said: "The book shows the tragedy of the people who were sent marching east, and the extraordinary variety of the lives they made, and lost, there: Russian revolutionaries, Polish nationalists, and all sorts of felons and outcasts. While beautifully written, and a riveting read, it is quarried out of an extraordinary range of sources, hitherto unavailable, and is a work of great scholarship."

Critical success

The House of the Dead has also been shortlisted for The Wolfson History Prize, The Pushkin House Russian Book Prize and the Longman History Today Prize, 2017.

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