Timothy Snyder, the Bird White Housum Professor of History and a professor at the Jackson Institute, was awarded the Gustav Ranis International Book Prize for best book for “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.”
Established in 2004 to recognize the distinguished legacy of two former directors of the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center, the prize is awarded for books on international topics written by current Yale faculty members. Award recipients receive a research appointment at the MacMillan Center and a $10,000 research award over two years.
In “Black Earth,” Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the 20th century, and reveals the risks humanity faces this century. Based on new sources from Eastern Europe and forgotten testimonies from Jewish survivors, “Black Earth” recounts the mass murder of the Jews as an event that is still close, more comprehensible than people would like to think, and thus all the more terrifying.
By overlooking the lessons of the Holocaust, Snyder concludes, humanity has misunderstood modernity and endangered the future. The early 21st century is coming to resemble the early 20th, as growing preoccupations with food and water accompany ideological challenges to global order. Snyder writes that the world today is closer to Hitler’s than most like to admit, and saving it requires seeing the Holocaust as it was — and today’s society as it is.