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Black Spartacus shortlisted for UK’s most prestigious history award

Sudhir Hazareesingh’s acclaimed biography of Toussaint Louverture has been shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize, the UK's most prestigious history award.

Black Spartacus tells the story of how, in 1793, Toussaint Louverture, himself a former slave, became the leader of Haiti's black population, the commander of its republican army and eventually its governor.

On its release last September it was hailed as a ‘triumph’ by The Financial Times and an ‘extraordinary gripping….tour de force’ by The Guardian.

The book is one of six to be shortlisted for the annual prize and is up against stiff competition including from Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack by Richard Ovenden, director of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

“I feel very honoured to be shortlisted and I am also very pleased that the Haitian revolution, this seminal episode in modern global politics, is now getting the attention it deserves” said Sudhir, a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Balliol College.

“I think of what I do as political history so history is a very important part of my research and I’ve spent a lot of time working on French political history since the 18th century so it feels quite relevant to what I do.

“To be given this honour by a panel who are all professional historians is very nice.”

The Wolfson History Prize recognises and celebrates books which combine excellence in research with readability.

Black Spartacus was also longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize in Autumn 2020, which celebrates the best in non-fiction writing.

It was also shortlisted for the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography; the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, 2020, the Prix Château de Versailles du Livre d'Histoire, 2021; and was a finalist for the Pen/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, 2020

The winner of the Wolfson History Prize will be announced on 9 June.


Further reading:

Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh is CUF Lecturer in Politics and Tutorial Fellow in Politics, Balliol College