Swedish-American historian Fredrik Logevall has been awarded a Pulitzer prize, one of the most prestigious prizes awarded in the US for achievements in journalism and the arts.
The Pulitzer, worth some $10,000 in prize money, was awarded for his book Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam.
“For a distinguished and appropriately documented book on the history of the United States,” the Pulitzer citation said.
The book charts the end of French colonial rule in Indochina and details how a “succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road to full blown war”.
The book is the latest by Logevall on his specialist subject of the Cold War and Vietnam. Previous works include A People and A Nation: A History of the United States, America’s Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity and Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam.
“It was a shock to get the news,” said Logevall, who is also the director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.
Logevall spent time working on the book — which was published last August — “on and off” for 10 years, he said, adding that he did a lot of travelling to research the places he was writing about.
“It’s the sort of book that requires a lot of research,” he said. “I traveled to Vietnam several times — one of the things I think is important is to be able to walk the ground about which I’m writing, to walk the battlefield … [that’s] one reason it took a long time to write.”
Embers of War is a history of the early years in the Vietnam struggle, beginning at the end of World War I and examining the next 40 years in the country’s history, Logevall said. The book is a prequel to Choosing War, Logevall’s Ph.D. dissertation — which was published as a book in 2001 — about heavy U.S. involvement in Vietnam.