History professor’s ‘Work of the Dead’ wins 2018 Shannon Prize

In selecting “The Work of the Dead,” a book by UC Berkeley history professor Thomas W. Laqueur, to receive the 2018 Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies, the jury praised its examination of how and why the living have cared for the dead in western Europe since the 18th century as a monumental achievement.

The $10,000 prize, one of the most prestigious honors in European studies, is awarded annually to the best book in European studies that transcends a focus on one country, state or people to spark new ways of thinking about contemporary Europe overall.

The prize jury cited “The Work of the Dead” for its scholarship, prose and vast reserves of historical information and insights that will be, it said, of value to other disciplines for years to come.

Professor Thomas W. Laqueur (Photo by Lil Spira)

Laqueur is the Helen Fawcett Professor of History. “The Work of the Dead” previously won the $75,000 Cundill Prize, administered by McGill University, for writing a book that “embodies historical scholarship, originality, literary quality and broad appeal,” as well as the George Mosse Prize of the American Historical Association for being the best book of 2016 in cultural history.

He is at work on a new book, “How Dogs Make Us Human,” based on his 2017 Faculty Research Lecture.

The Shannon Prize is given by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Laqueur will visit Notre Dame next fall to accept the award, deliver a public lecture and meet with faculty and students.