Laura Shannon Prize Winner

Brown Manual For Survival

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Publication Year: 2019

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Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future

by Kate Brown

2021 Silver Medalist in History and Social Sciences

Jury Statement (Silver Medal)

A bold rethinking of the narrative of the Chernobyl catastrophe, Manual for Survival locates the events at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in a broad geographical and temporal frame that moves between diverse scales and types of evidence: the experiences of everyday people tenaciously hanging on to life in the Pripyat Marshes, studies of radiation and its effects, archives of state bureaucracies in the Soviet Union and its successor states, and the interventions of NGOs like Greenpeace and international organizations such as the UN and WHO.

In situating Chernobyl on a continuum of nuclear contamination that is not just European but global in scope, Kate Brown powerfully challenges our understanding of Chernobyl, demonstrating how it represents a critical point on a “timeline of destruction.” With reporting and storytelling that is at once remarkable in its form and alarming in what it exposes about the arrogance of power, Manual for Survival offers a timely meditation on the politics of science and a chilling cautionary tale for our pandemic era.

Final Jury

Pamela Ballinger
Professor of History and Fred Cuny Chair in the History of Human Rights
University of Michigan

Semion Lyandres
Professor of History
University of Notre Dame

A. James McAdams
William M. Scholl Professor of International Affairs
University of Notre Dame

Jan Palmowski
Secretary-General of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities and
Professor of Modern History
University of Warwick

Sonja Puntscher Riekmann
Professor Emerita of Political Theory and European Politics at the University of Salzburg and
Research Fellow at the Salzburg Centre of European Union Studies