2010 WinnerShaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing
for The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe's Troubled Past and Uncertain Future
"From the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to the disintegration of the Soviet Union itself in 1991, the former Warsaw Pact states of Central Europe re-gained their independence from Moscow. In Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, newly liberated voices became the sentinels of nascent democracies. But along the way, ancient enmities also stirred, as well as a certain “politics of retribution” with former Communist Party officials and enforcers. In Warsaw, we hear the voice not only of Lech Walesa, the shipyard worker who became president of a free Poland, but also former General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Communist leader who outlawed Solidarity and declared martial law in 1981. And so it goes on Anna Porter’s personal journey across the four Central European nations, where she enjoyed remarkable access to the leaders of both the resistance and the former Communist regimes. Even under the Soviet yoke, these countries never lost their nationhood, but two decades later still struggle ‘under the weight of history and memory.’ In Anna Porter, we are in the presence not only of a journalist on a personal odyssey back to her own origins in Communist Hungary, but of a gifted storyteller who shapes a historically consequential narrative."
– 2010 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize Jury (L. Ian MacDonald, Rosemary Spiers, and Paul Wells)
2007 WinnerHilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
for Kasztner’s Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust
“Kasztner’s Train is compelling, disturbing, and intensely relevant for our contingent times. The story of Rezso Kasztner, a man who literally paid the Nazis for the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews in the last days of World War II, asks difficult and often unanswerable questions. Anna Porter’s narrative is a chilling but redemptive tale about how bargaining for justice can shadow the burden of truth. Eloquent and disquieting, this intricately researched account of the web of politics, legality, and love in a time of world upheaval is suspenseful but urgent. When every choice is an impossible choice, what moral choice can make a difference?” – 2007 Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize Jury (Greg Gatenby, John Metcalf, and Aritha Van Herk)