March 18. 2013 6:06PM

UNH historian wins Bancroft Prize

DURHAM - A University of New Hampshire professor has been named a recipient of the 2013 Bancroft Prize.

Columbia University announce that W. Jeffrey Bolster, associate professor of history, is one of two recipients of the prize for what UNH Media Relations said in a release was Bolster's "gripping and eloquent history of the human impact on the ocean. ''

Bolster , a former seafarer himself, wrote "The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail" (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012). The other winner is John Fabian Witt of Yale University for "Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History" (Free Press, 2012).

Bolster's theme is that overfishing is more than a contemporary problem.

He writes that, "Beginning the story well before industrialization emphasizes the longevity of people's short-sighted impact on the ocean, and emphasizes, as well, how modern technology was not necessary to affect the balance of nature. "

"With its deep roots, this tale is probably the longest history possible of Euro-Americans' interaction with any aspect of their natural environment, a story of unrealistic hopes, frequent articulated concerns, destruction, and denial," he said.

The Bancroft Prize is awarded annually by the trustees of Columbia University. There were 223 books nominated and considered for the 2013 prize.