Historians Saul Friedlander and Daniel Walker Howe win Pulitzer Prizes
By Ajay Singh
Published Apr 1, 2008 8:00 AM
Two UCLA professors of history have each won 2008 Pulitzer Prizes for general nonfiction and history, joining the ranks of literary luminaries and past Pulitzer winners such as political scientist George F. Kennan, historian Richard Hofstadter and journalist Studs Terkel.
Saul Friedländer, professor of history and noted scholar of the Nazi Holocaust, won the prestigious prize for general nonfiction for his 2006 book, "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945," published by HarperCollins. The book, which blends the history of the Nazis with personal stories about their victims, is the second and concluding volume of Friedländer's acclaimed historical narrative about the persecution and extermination of the Jews during World War II.
Professor Emeritus Daniel Walker Howe won the Pulitzer for history for his 2007 book, "What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848."
"We are deeply honored that two UCLA historians have won the Pulitzer Prize for truly engaging works that shed light on two pivotal points of history," said Chancellor Gene Block. "We take great pride in these scholars and the valuable work they do."
"It's a great honor," said Friedländer, who holds the 1939 Club Chair in Holocaust Studies and is a Holocaust survivor whose parents were killed during the Holocaust. A citizen of both the United States and Israel, he added: "The Pulitzer is important because it's an American prize that has a great meaning in this country."
Howe said he felt "elated" upon hearing that he had won the Pulitzer. "I'm grateful that the book has been appreciated and noticed," he added, partly because "it's the first book I have written for the general, literate, curious public. I wanted to say something for the public at large and I am very happy to have done that."
"What Hath God Wrought," published by Oxford University Press, is a general history of the United States from 1815 to 1848. It is an account of the innovations in communications and transportation that laid the foundations of modern America. The book's title, taken from a quote in the Bible, alludes to the text of the first-ever telegraphic message, tapped out by Samuel Morse from the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in 1844.
"This is absolutely marvelous!" said Edward Alpers, professor and chair of the Department of History. "To have two colleagues in the same department receive Pulitzers the same year must be truly unique .... We are all extremely proud of Saul and Dan for receiving this remarkable national recognition of their magnificent achievements."
Both Friedländer and Howe are looking forward to talking about their books. Friedländer recently returned from France, where the French translation of his book was published, and will be returning there in June to deliver the prestigious Marc Bloch Lectures at the Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (School for Higher Studies in the Social Sciences.)
Howe will give a talk about "What Hath God Wrought" to the UCLA Emeriti Association on May 14.
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