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Stack of books

Nataliya Arzamasova/iStock

The shortlist for Cundill Prize, the world's richest award for a book of historical non-fiction, was announced on Tuesday.

The jury considered 159 titles before settling on six finalists: Harvard University history professor Sven Beckert for Empire of Cotton: A Global History; Susan Pedersen, a professor at Columbia University, for The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire; Claudio Saunt, a professor of American History at the University of Georgia, for West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776; Yale University professor Stuart B. Schwartz for Sea of Storms: A History of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean from Columbus to Katrina; German philosopher Bettina Stangneth for Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer; and Nikolaus Wachsmann, a professor of Modern German History at the University of London, for KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps.

Schwartz won the inaugural prize in 2008 for All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World.

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The three finalists will be announced in early October, while the winner of the $75,000 (U.S.) prize will be announced on November 2.

This year's jury is comprised of author and publisher Anna Porter; David Frum, a senior editor at The Atlantic; Anthony Cary, the former British High Commissioner in Canada; University of Ottawa professor Chad Gaffield; and Maya Jasanoff, a professor at Harvard and a former finalist for the Cundill Prize.

The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, as it's officially known, was established in 2008; each year, it celebrates an author "who has published a book determined to have had (or likely to have) a profound literary, social and academic impact in the area of history."

The prize is administered by McGill University, and was established by alumnus F. Peter Cundill, who died in 2011.

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