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Intellectually shrewd and consistently entertaining.
— Jim Holt
James F. English's compelling [book] offers a harsh view of the process of giving and receiving special prizes. Anyone who thinks that awards genuinely pay tribute to excellence in achievement should have their naivete shaken away with this often-startling book.
— Phil Hall
English's far-ranging examination of the prize phenomenon is able to provide concrete specificity--the history of individual awards, their trophies' value, their administrative costs--as well as engaging with the most abstract questions of 'cultural capital'...One of the joys of English's project is the way it merges high cultural theory...with an astounding range of newspaper, magazine and television commentary, providing in the process an analysis of the prize 'event' as much as prize outcomes.
— Simone Murray
[An] ingenious analysis of the history and social function of cultural prizes and awards.
— Louis Menand
[This is a] frequently hilarious and gripping book...An anecdotal delight and an intellectual revelation.
— Bryan Appleyard
Introduction: Prizes and the Study of Culture
I. The Age of Awards
1. Prize Frenzy
2. Precursors of the Modern Cultural Prize
3. The Logic of Proliferation
4. Prizes as Entertainment
II. Peculiarities of the Awards Industry
5. The Making of a Prize
6. Taste Management
7. Trophies as Objects of Production and Trade
III. The Game and Its Players
8. Scandalous Currency
9. The New Rhetoric of Prize Commentary
10. Strategies of Condescension, Styles of Play
IV. The Global Economy of Cultural Prestige
11. The Arts as International Sport
12. The New Geography of Prestige
13. Prizes and the Politics of World Culture
Appendix A. The Rise of the Prize
Appendix B. Prizes and Commerce
Appendix C. Winner Take All: Six Lists