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Black Spartacus wins UK’s most prestigious history award

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    Sudhir Hazareesingh has won the Wolfson History Prize with Black Spartacus

Sudhir Hazareesingh’s acclaimed biography of Toussaint Louverture has won 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. 

Prize judges declared the book an ‘….erudite and elegant biography of a courageous leader which tells a gripping story with a message that resonates strongly in our own time.’

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

“It is a wonderful honour to win the Wolfson prize and I am very grateful to the DPIR for all the research support I have received over these past years,” said Sudhir, a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Balliol College.

 “This book has made me realise more acutely than ever how closely politics and history are intertwined, and that scholarship is a collective effort, resting on the accumulated wisdom from current and previous generations.

“I would like to dedicate this award to the Haitian people, and to all the scholars who have helped give the Saint-Domingue revolution, this landmark event in the fight for emancipation and dignity, the prominence it deserves”

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

Further reading:

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