On September 28, Mary E. Sarotte was awarded the 2022 Pushkin House Book Prize for “Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Patt” at a gala at the London Library.
Not One Inch was one of ten books nominated for this year’s award. It is an in-depth and insightful account of America’s relationships with the new post-Cold War democracies of Eastern and Central Europe, with its older European allies, and with Russia in particular — a relationship that has gone awry and has sown the seeds of America’s tensions, that shape today’s world.
In her acceptance speech, Prof. Sarotte said: “When I was researching and writing the book, I often encountered skepticism about the subject. I kept hearing that Russia was no longer interested and that readers no longer wanted to read my book. I persisted in my research because I firmly believed that understanding the history of Western interaction with Russia was essential. I thank Yale University Press for their support in bringing my work to a wider audience, and again Pushkin House for the vote of confidence.”
Ekaterina Schulmann, spokeswoman for Judges 2022, said: “Mary Sarotte’s book presents thorough documentation and a compelling account of East-West diplomacy and relations. The story she tells is simultaneously historically significant and uncomfortably close. In 2022, it sometimes reads like one of those works that describe the events leading up to the First World War… The meaning of Sarotte’s voice and its careful analysis give us readers the opportunity to understand, at least partially, how we got to where we are are now. ”
Everyone involved with the book prize pointed out the special significance of the books nominated this year and the winning volume. Andrew Jack, Founder of the Prize, said: “Never in the history of the Prize has quality writing been more important – or better provided – to understanding Russia than in this year’s offerings.”
Marc Polonsky, Chairman of the Pushkin House Board of Trustees, pointed out the crucial importance of “a deep understanding and proper analysis of Russia in all its complexities – both its past and its present”. And Douglas S. Smith, who helps fund the award with his wife Stephanie Ellis-Smith, said: “Mary Sarotte’s ‘Not One Inch’ is not only the book for our turbulent times, but will be read by all who want to understand it. The origins of the world after the Cold War will be read for a long time to come. It is irreplaceable work.”
The jury also wanted to recognize “In Memory of Memory”, written by Maria Stepanova and translated by Sasha Dugdale, a beautiful reflection on the Soviet experience of families and the mysterious power of memory.
This year the judges were Evgenia Arbugaeva, photographer; Archie Brown, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Oxford University and author of many books including The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher and the End of the Cold War, which won the 2021 Pushkin House Book Prize; Dmitry Glukhovsky, a multilingual journalist and author; Ekaterina Schulmann, political scientist and associate professor; Richard von Weizsäcker scholarship holder at the Bosch Academy; and Baroness Deborah Bull, writer, broadcaster, cultural commentator and crossbench peer in the House of Lords.
At the ceremony, the Pushkin House reaffirmed its commitment to supporting thinkers and creative people who can contribute to a better understanding of the world after February 24, 2022. For this reason, among other things, the book awards committee considered ten works this year instead of the six books they have shortlisted in the past.
The Pushkin House Book Prize of £10,000 is awarded each year to the best non-fiction book about and/or from Russia published in the previous year.
Prof. Sarotte concluded her acceptance speech with a strong endorsement of the Pushkin House and its activities. “I believe that the work of the Pushkin House in the service of international dialogue is more important than ever today given the immense tragedy of the war in Ukraine,” she said. “The Pushkin House’s mission is to provide a deep understanding of Russia, something that could not be more urgent at this critical time. It is an honor to receive this award from such an important institution whose work will continue to gain relevance.”