2016 Prize

2016 Prize

The winners of the Wolfson History Prizes (for books published in 2015) were announced at a reception at
Claridge's on 15 June 2016.

Click here for BBC History Magazine's exclusive interview with the Prize winners and Chief Executive, Paul Ramsbottom

Robin Lane Fox

Augustine: Conversions and Confessions

Presenting the award, Prize Judge Professor Julia Smith said: “This book revisits one of the most influential and prolific authors in western thought, a man whose preoccupations with sin, evil, bodily pain, longing, and love lie at the heart of this scintillating analysis. In brief, the book is about one man’s life-long search for heaven in a world of abundant evil, and his strivings to make some sort of contact with that heaven in his daily life…But unlike so many interpretations of works of philosophy and theology, this study is grounded in the man’s direct experience of the world around him—the people he knew, those he loved, his emotions and intense physical experiences, whether of pain, lust, pleasure or anger…Beautifully written in a crystalline prose where not a word is out of place, it’s a book to read in a garden, or the shady courtyard of a Mediterranean villa, as well as in the study or library.” 

Robin Lane Fox is Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford, and was until 2014 Reader in Ancient History in Oxford University. He is the author of Pagans and Christians (1986), The Unauthorised Version (1992) and many books on classical history, including Alexander the Great (1973), The Classical World (2005) and Travelling Heroes (2008), all of which have been widely translated. He has been the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times since 1970.


Professor Nikolaus Wachsmann

KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps 

Presenting the award, Prize Judge Professor Julia Smith said: “Wachsmann consistently brings shrewd historical judgement paired with great moral integrity to wrestling with some of the hardest questions a historian can face...Commencing in 1933, he charts the evolution and politics of the [Nazi’s] entire institutional apparatus of repression and extermination of criminals, communists, the disabled, gypsies, homosexuals and others, as well as Jews. Importantly, he blends this with detailed attention to the experiences of both the sufferers and their tormenters, making this history in the round – from below as well as above. This deft balancing of competing perspectives rests upon prodigious archival research and the judicious deployment of a wealth of anecdotal detail.”

Nikolaus Wachsmann is professor of modern European history at Birkbeck College, and author of the prize-winning Hitler's Prisons and co-editor of Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany: The New Histories. Wachsmann worked as a researcher for Deborah Lipstadt’s solicitors, in the High Court libel action against her by Holocaust denier David Irving. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Nikolaus lives in Liverpool and works in London.


The Prize winners both received an award of £30,000. The judges for the prize were Professor Sir David Cannadine (Chairman), Professor Sir Richard Evans, Professor Julia Smith, and Professor Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch.