The Cundill Prize for history this year has gone to Stephen Platt for his book Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, The West, And The Epic Story of The Taiping Civil War. [See here.]
This is a prize worth paying attention to. Started a few years ago, and based at McGill, it goes to great works of history from any region or time period. From the people who have been nominated and who have won over the last few years, the committees seem to reward great books written by smart people who are both stretching themselves and their field. These are academics who are writing books that are much more than academic books.
Personally this year I was hoping for Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began but it was knocked out when they moved from the longlist to the shortlist.
I can't imagine why they don't have me as a judge....