Columbia University announced earlier this week that W. Jeffrey Bolster, associate professor of history at the UNH, is one of two recipients of the 2013 Bancroft Prize for his gripping and eloquent history of the human impact on the ocean.
Bolster is the author of The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012). The other winner is John Fabian Witt of Yale University for Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Free Press, 2012).
According to Columbia University, the winning works, while different in subject matter, demonstrate the powerful impact of re-examination of historical events in an ever-changing, ever-evolving world.
While overfishing is often thought of as a contemporary problem, Bolster reveals in The Mortal Sea that humans were transforming the sea long before factory trawlers turned fishing from a hand-liner’s art into an industrial enterprise. The western Atlantic’s legendary fishing banks, stretching from Cape Cod to Newfoundland, have attracted fishermen for more than 500 years.
The Bancroft Prize, established in 1948, is considered one of the most distinguished academic awards in the field of history.