The 6th edition of this prize was advertised in October 2013 in the same venues as the previous year. We received 13 entries, of which twelve were complete. The committee has chosen Dora Vargha’sIron Curtain, Iron Lungs: Governing Polio in Cold War Hungary 1952-1963, a dissertation completed at Rutgers University in 2013, under the direction of Paul Hanebrink.
Dora Vargha’s Iron Curtain, Iron Lungs is a very nicely presented, well-argued story of the response to polio in 1950s Hungary that not only offers useful comparison to that specific history in other nations, but deftly addresses how this story impacted and reflected communist rule in Hungary, as well as larger Cold War issues. It is a well-done example of taking an interesting and compelling focused historical story and using it to tell us something broader about the nuances of the eastern European communist period, and the Cold War in general. Further, for an American audience, who are generally familar with the history of polio in the United States, having an English language work that looks at how polio was confronted elsewhere is illuminating.
The committee consisted of Peter Jakab, Klaus Stauberman, Francesc Barca and Rachel Maines (chair).