2017 PRIZE (Books published in 2015-2016)

2017 CSA Book Prize Announcement

The Czechoslovak Studies Association is pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 cycle of its biennial prize for the best book in the field of Czechoslovak historical studies. The committee awards the prize to Rudolf Kucera, for his Rationed Life: Science, Everyday Life, and Working-Class Politics in the Bohemian Lands, 1914-1918 (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2016). Publisher info: Rationed Life

Rudolf Kucera's book investigates the Czech working-class experience during the First World War via both the reality and metaphor of rationing, providing a fascinating examination of several unexpected facets of wartime life that offer new ways of thinking about working-class politics both during the war and during Czechoslovakia's subsequent First Republic. Conceiving the wartime Czech working class as "constantly forming and transforming" rather than as finished and stable, Kucera focuses on how war influenced the transformation of an organized working class.

The first chapter, "Rationed Satiety: The Politics of Food," sets the stage by showing how pre-war nutritional science developed theories about food as human fuel that led to narrowly conceived, minutely calculated, calorie and fat rations that were intended solely to fuel the working body and that took no account of the body's long-term physical health, let alone gustatory pleasure. During wartime, the harmful effects of these theories were exacerbated by supply-chain failures that led to urban food shortages. Some categories of workers were able to obtain meals at factory canteens or public kitchens while others were not, and citizens of all classes ran the risk of arrest for violating decrees forbidding sale and consumption of meat products on specific days of the week. The chapters that follow, "Rationed Fatigue: The Politics of Work," "Rationed Manliness: The Politics of Gender," and "Rationed Anger: The Politics of Protest," further develop Kucera's thesis that "the notion of a fully rationalized and organized modern world, where everything had to be clearly determined and the location and the amount had to be scientifically justified, took over Czech workers' lives and helped to constitute the wartime working class." These chapters simultaneously paint a picture of workers' lives during wartime, and delineate their contacts with state and scientific authorities and other citizens of Austria-Hungary, asking how these contacts contributed to the creation of the working class as historical agent, or conversely prevented this from happening.

This is a fresh and original work that employs a rich range of archival and secondary sources. Its innovative approach to the somewhat out-of-fashion topic of working-class politics, coupled with its meticulous research, made Rationed Life a clear the winner of this year's Czechoslovak Studies Association Book Prize.

The committee awards two honorable mentions.

Honorable mention is awarded to Alice Lovejoy, Army Film and the Avant Garde: Cinema and Experiment in the Czechoslovak Military (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2015). Drawing on a highly original and largely unexamined set of sources-the films produced by the Czechoslovak military from the 1930s through the 1960s-Lovejoy proposes a bold re-reading of East European cinema in its Cold War context. She argues persuasively that state institutions like Army Film helped keep alive interwar avant-garde experimental traditions that were supposed to have been wrecked by Stalinist socialist realism, highlighting the continuities across eras that usually have been conceived as caesurae. In so doing, she calls into question the notion of a monolithic socialist state, demonstrating the institutional means by which the state was able to accommodate many more social and aesthetic alternatives than is generally imagined. Her book therefore has important implications not only for the study of Czechoslovak cinema, but also for the understanding of the history of the socialist state in Eastern Europe.

Honorable mention is awarded to Eagle Glassheim, Cleansing the Czechoslovak Borderlands. Migration, Environment and Health in the Former Sudetenland (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). Glassheim's book presents a veritable historical panorama of the Bohemian border regions during the 19th and 20th centuries. Long marked by the cohabitation of Germans and Czechs, which produced multilingualism, mixed-marriage, and at times national indifference, the former "Sudetenland" also gave rise to interethnic conflict, nationalist struggle, segregation, and ultimately expulsion. Using the expulsions as an anchor for exploring the postwar socialist state, Glassheim investigates the aims but also the failures and fatalities of the new government's social, populational, and health engineering, as well as delineating the economic, industrial, and environmental transformations undertaken by the postwar communist regime. Glassheim's approach thereby creates a foundation for further comparative studies. The book's intriguing perspective of longue duree, combined with innovative analysis of a rich array of sources, creates a compelling picture of the causes, effects, and developments of modernization, migration, and industrialization. These qualities prompted the book prize committee of the Czechoslovak Studies Association to award an honorable mention to this outstanding piece of research.

Prize Committee for 2017:
Karla Huebner, Wright State University
Thomas Ort, Queens College
Frank Henschel, University of Bremen



James Krapfl, Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture & Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992 (Cornell University Press, 2013).


Mark Cornwall, The Devil's Wall: The Nationalist Youth Mission of Heinz Rutha (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).


Howard Louthan, Converting Bohemia: Force and Persuasion in the Catholic Reformation (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).


Tara Zahra, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands 1900-1948 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008).


Pieter Judson, Guardians of the Nation: Activists on the Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006).


The Czechoslovak Studies Association Prize for the Best Book in the Field of Czechoslovak Historical Studies.

1. The prize will be awarded in alternate years to the best book among eligible submissions published in a prior two-year period. The competition for this prize will be held alternately with the competition for the Stanley Z. Pech Prize.

2. The monetary amount of the award will be $200, with adjustments possible by vote of the membership.

3. A prize committee of three CSA members will select the winning entry. One member of the committee will be designated as chair. The CSA president will appoint the committee. Authors are responsible for supplying the committee with the book they wish to enter in the competition.

4. To be eligible for consideration, books must be primarily concerned with the history of Czechoslovakia, its predecessor and successor states, or any of its peoples within and without its historical boundaries. The field of historical studies will be broadly construed, with books in all fields considered for the prize if they are substantially historical in nature. The prize committee will decide whether a book matches these criteria. Books under consideration must be new works by a single author written originally in the English language. The competition will be open to members and non-members of the CSA.

5. The decision of the prize committee is final. If the committee members agree that more than one book should share the prize, the monetary award will be divided evenly among the prize recipients. If the committee judges that no submission is worthy of the prize, no prize will be awarded.

6. The CSA Executive Committee will undertake fund-raising for the prize directly, or via a committee they appoint. The Secretary-Treasurer of the CSA will manage the prize fund.

7. The CSA Executive Committee authorizes the CSA to donate $500 from its operating funds to lay the foundation for the prize fund. Future donations from the CSA operating fund will be contingent upon a separate vote of the membership.