Feb. 1, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 10

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    Erasmus Prize awarded to McNeill

    William McNeill, the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in History, has received the Erasmus Prize, the most prestigious cultural award made by the Netherlands. The award, presented by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation of Amsterdam, is given to a person or institution that has made a particularly important contribution to European culture, society or social science.

    The prize was awarded to McNeill because he is "the unrivaled pioneer in the new and important field of world history," according to a statement issued by the foundation. "By applying social scientific theories to the study of history and historical theories to the study of societies, McNeill has given an innovative stimulus to both disciplines. His choice of subjects, his lucid style, the wide range of his works -- in which he considers European history in a global perspective in a most original way -- make William McNeill one of the most influential historians of our time."

    McNeill's work has examined broad historical changes in societies. Among his monumental works are The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (1963), which won the National Book Award and the Press's 1964 Laing Prize, and Plagues and Peoples (1976), which describes the role of disease in history. He is also the author of The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Forces and Society Since A.D. 1000 (1982), Mythistory and Other Essays (1986) and Arnold J. Toynbee: A Life (1989).

    His latest book, Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History, was published in 1995.

    McNeill, who began his education at the Laboratory Schools, received his A.B. in 1938 and his A.M. in 1939 from the University. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1947, the same year he joined the Chicago faculty.