Halik Kochanski wins the 2023 Wolfson History Prize

Halik Kochanski was named the winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2023, the UK’s most prestigious history writing prize, at a ceremony at Claridge’s in London, for her sweeping history of resistance in wartime Europe: Resistance: The Underground War in Europe 1939-1945.

Championing a shortlist of six titles, Kochanski wins this year’s prize and receives a total of £50,000. Each of the five shortlisted authors receives £5,000 making the Wolfson History Prize the most valuable writing prize in the UK.

A judging panel made up of Mary Beard, Sudhir Hazareesingh, Richard Evans, Carole Hillenbrand, Diarmaid MacCulloch, and chair David Cannadine made the decision, firstly narrowing down the best history writing in the UK from the past year to a shortlist of six books, before selecting the overall winner.

On the winning title the judges said:

Unveiling lesser-known acts of defiance, this is a remarkable history of pan-European resistance to the Nazis. Through diverse sources and captivating storytelling, it presents a compelling exploration of this critical era.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said:

For over half a century, the Wolfson History Prize has celebrated history writing that is rooted in excellent research and which captivates readers. Resistance joins a rollcall of winners that achieve both – and with considerable elegance. Halik Kochanski presents an overarching analysis of European resistance during the Second World War, without ever losing a sharp focus on the human narratives that lie at its heart.

About the Book

Bringing untold accounts of wartime resistance to light, Resistance is the first English-language history of resistance to study the whole of Europe, uncovering powerful human stories that have been overlooked across the continent.

The book delves into the reasons that people chose to resist the Third Reich and the methods they used, from partisan warfare in the occupied Soviet Union to dangerous acts of insurrection in the Netherlands.

In Resistance Halik Kochanski reveals remarkable achievements of ordinary people and the formidable challenges that they faced amid oppression.

David Cannadine, Chair of the Wolfson History Prize judges said:

Resistance is impressive in its breadth, blending macro and micro history into a single narrative. This book does more than recount the past; it breathes life into forgotten voices and untold tales of bravery, illuminating the spirit of ordinary people who challenged oppression.

Through meticulous research and powerful writing, Halik Kochanski highlights the indomitable courage of those who resisted the Nazis. In our own times of conflict and instability, Resistance is a timely inner of the Wolfson History Prize, and we offer our warmest congratulations to Halik.

Get involved

If you work in a library or workplace and would like to promote the prize winner, you can download a free digital pack from our shop.

What do you think of this year’s winner and the other shortlisted titles? Which have you read and what will be added to your TBR pile? Add your comments below, or click any title above to leave a review.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WolfsonHistoryPrize.

To learn more about the Wolfson History Prize head over to their website or connect on Twitter via @WolfsonHistory

Want to make sure you never miss the latest reading group news? Sign up for our free monthly newsletter.

The Reading Agency

Join our mailing list

Get our newsletters to stay up to date with programme news, resources, news and more.

Back to Top