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Samuel Eleazar and Rose Tartakow Levinson Prize

The Samuel Eleazar and Rose Tartakow Levinson Prize is awarded each year for a single-authored, unpublished essay in the history of technology that explicitly examines, in some detail, a technology or technological device or process within the framework of social or intellectual history. It is intended for younger scholars and new entrants into the profession. The award consists of a check and a certificate.

Recipient of the 2023 Samuel Eleazar and Rose Tartakow Levinson Prize

2023 Levinson Prize winner Tom Kelsey (left), and SHOT Vice-President Debbie Douglas. (Photo SHOT)

Tom Kelsey, University of Oxford

For: “Fighting the Supersonic Deception: the critics of Concorde in post-war Britain”

The Anglo-French Concorde supersonic passenger airliner was a masterpiece of engineering, but a commercial failure. In the UK it was criticized from the beginning by individuals both within and outside of the British government. This clear and compelling account of the resistance to the Concorde project argues that resistance was more than simply neo-liberal officials worried about cost, elite politicians pining for a mythical past, and environmentalists concerned about sonic booms. “What the critics of Concorde shared was not environmentalism or a hostility to modernity, but a wariness about state power.” Taking a political economic approach and making explicit comparisons to the failed US supersonic transport program and the nuclear breeder reactor, this excellent work demonstrates that it was British techno-nationalism that kept the program alive and supported until the true costs were widely known. “…it was national delusion whose pretence could not be broken.”.