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Professor Richard Bourke awarded prestigious accolade from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame has awarded the Honourable Mention in the 2018 Laura Shannon Prize to Professor Richard Bourke for his book Empire & Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke.

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Professor Richard Bourke
Professor Richard Bourke

Richard Bourke is Professor in the History of Political Thought at Queen Mary University of London. The jury commended his book, stating:

"Richard Bourke’s Empire & Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke is a significant and carefully researched study of a towering figure in eighteenth-century European history and politics: Edmund Burke, the great rhetorician, politician, and political theorist. While some have dismissed Burke as irredeemably conservative, Bourke has recovered the political reformer, the opponent of colonial exploitation and royal overreach, and the unstinting advocate for oppressed peoples.

"To the image of Burke as a supporter of class distinctions, an “open aristocracy,” and a parliamentary monarchy, Bourke brings a great deal of nuance. One of the great achievements of this book is the author’s attention to Burke’s remarkable style and rhetoric—treating them not merely as secondary matters, but as integral components of his message. Well-grounded in the sources, clear in its methodological approach, and elegantly written, Empire & Revolution richly repays the effort of those willing to engage a study of this detail and density. It is a paragon of intellectual history."

The winner of the 2018 Laura Shannon Prize is Thomas W. Laqueur for his book The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains, published by Princeton University Press.

The Laura Shannon Prize and the Honourable Mention award, are among the preeminent prizes for European studies; awarded each year to the best books in European studies that transcends a focus on any one country, state, or people to stimulate new ways of thinking about contemporary Europe as a whole. This year’s cycle of the award considered books in humanities published in 2015 or 2016.

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies is based at the University of Notre Dame. The institute is part of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs. For more information about the Nanovic Institute and the Laura Shannon Prize, visit

Awards and praise for Empire & Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke

“the finest of intellectual portraits . . . the definitive account of a life in ideas and politics." --Gavin Jacobson, Financial Times

"The learning involved is deeply impressive, but the momentum of the overall argument is such that it carries its weight with elegance. This book is a truly outstanding achievement. It is the finest of all books on Edmund Burke."--Seamus Deane, Literary Review

"Richard Bourke's Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke . . . is a monument of exact scholarship and careful reflection, by a long way the best book that we have on this profound and much misunderstood politician and philosopher."--Jonathan Sumption, Spectator

"Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke, by Richard Bourke (Princeton University Press), is a majestic study of a fascinating and gloriously ambiguous political thinker."--John Banville, Observer

"Richard Bourke's magisterial Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke . . . authoritatively restores a key figure to his proper context."--Roy Foster, The Irish Times

  • Joint Winner of the István Hont Memorial Prize in Intellectual History
  • One of The Spectator 2015 Books of the Year
  • One of The Guardian's Best Books of 2015
  • One of the Irish Times 2015 Readers' Books of the Year
  • Selected for National Review Online "Some Great 2015 Books"
  • Book of the Year from the Claremont Review of Books

About Professor Richard Bourke

Richard Bourke specialises in the history of political thought. His research has ranged across ancient and modern intellectual history, with an emphasis on the political theory of the enlightenment. He took his first degree at University College Dublin and completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He also gained a second BA in Classics at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Having previously co-directed the AHRC-funded Popular Sovereignty Network, he is currently co-directing the History in the Humanities and Social Sciences Network. His work has attracted various accolades and awards, and he has held a number of Fellowships in Europe and the United States. He is currently co-director of the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought.

In addition to his academic research, he has contributed opinion pieces and reviews to The Times Literary Supplement, The Financial Times, Political Quarterly, The Irish Times, Prospect Magazine, Aeon, Juncture, The Literary Review, Standpoint and The Nation.

Find out more about the BA History at Queen Mary.

For media information, contact:

Paul Jordan
Faculty Communications Manager (HSS)