Edith Sheffer
Edith Sheffer

Two Bay Area scholars shortlisted for Lynton prize for American nonfiction


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Stanford Jewish culture and history professor Steven J. Zipperstein and UC Berkeley German history scholar Edith Sheffer, who both published significant scholarly works last year on the 20th-century Jewish experience in Europe, have been shortlisted for the Mark Lynton History Prize, to be awarded jointly by Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Steven J. Zipperstein
Steven J. Zipperstein

Zipperstein’s “Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History” used new evidence he culled from sources in Russia, Israel and Europe to bring historical insight and clarity to the subject of the 1903 pogroms in the capital city of Moldova, analyzing how the reporting on that event impacted perceptions of Jews throughout most of the 20th century.

In “Asperger’s Children: The Origin of Autism in Nazi Vienna,” Edith Sheffer, a senior fellow at UC Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies, revealed how Hans Asperger, the pioneer who helped define autism and Asperger’s syndrome in Nazi Vienna, was not only involved in the racial policies of Hitler’s Third Reich, but was also complicit in the murder of children.

Cover of "Asperger's Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna" by Edith ShefferZipperstein and Sheffer are among five authors in the running for the prize, announced Feb. 26. The winner and runner-ups will be revealed on March 20, and the awards presented May 7 at the Nieman Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Mark Lynton History Prize, which comes with a $10,000 award, is given annually for a book-length work of narrative history on any subject that “best combines intellectual distinction with felicity of expression.” Together with the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the three prizes aspire to honor the best in American nonfiction writing.