2015 PRIZE (Books published in 2013-2014)

2015 CSA Book Prize Announcement

The Czechoslovak Studies Association is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 cycle of its biennial prize for the best book in the field of Czechoslovak historical studies. The committee awards the prize to James Krapfl, for his Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture & Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992 (Cornell University Press, 2013). In this work, Professor Krapfl provides a unique study of the “Velvet Revolution,” from a bottom-up and outside-of-Prague perspective. He covers the period from November 1989 through the breakup of the common Czech and Slovak state at the end of 1992, but his major focus is on the six weeks from November to January, 1990. He combed some forty archives in regional and local centers ranging from western Bohemia to eastern Slovakia to provide a richly grounded sense of what ordinary people outside of the capitals—not from the ranks of the former dissidents—were thinking, feeling, and doing. In elegant and precise prose, Krapfl applies an approach taken largely from literary theory to track the trajectory of the revolution through romantic, comic, tragic, and finally cynical narratives that are shaped by and help form the outward political developments. His discussion of how Prague and Bratislava were able to absorb and restrict the grassroots organizations that had sprung up during the early weeks of the revolution, creating Czech and Slovak versions of the movement, is particularly telling in suggesting what led to the eventual separation of the two peoples in 1992.

The committee awards honorable mention to James Mace Ward, Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia (Cornell University Press, 2013). In this thorough and painstaking scholarly biography of Msgr. Jozef Tiso, wartime leader of the Slovak state, Professor Ward breaks down the traditional black-white version of this significant figure of Slovak (and Czechoslovak, as well as European, history). Written with skill and panache, the book utilizes an impressive array of sources in multiple languages and provides an in-depth study of its protagonist’s political evolution from the waning days of the Habsburg monarchy to the gallows of the not-yet-communist Czechoslovakia of 1947. In a final chapter, Ward also surveys the posthumous peregrinations of Tiso’s reputation, as much of the Slovak emigration elevated him to the status of national martyr and hero, while the communist regime painted him purely as a traitor and collaborator (while ignoring, for the most part, the issue of the Holocaust in Slovakia). Though some attention has been paid to the wartime Slovak state and Tiso in Slovakia since 1990, nothing approaches the accomplishment of Ward’s biography.

The committee received seven nominated works, covering historical moments from the late Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Taken together, these works testify to the high quality of scholarly work on Czech and Slovak topics. That abundant quality made the task of choosing a single prize winner particularly difficult, but it promises continued growth and development within our professional community.

Prize Committee for 2015:
Hugh Agnew, George Washington University
Owen Johnson, Indiana University
Kimberly Zarecor, Iowa State University



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.