Thursday, 16 June 2011

Samuel Johnson Shortlist 2011

Mao's Great FamineThe shortlist for the 2011 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction has been announced. The titles on the shortlist are:
Bismarck: A Life by Jonathan Steinberg - the astonishing story of the political genius and deeply flawed man who created Germany, but never ruled it;
Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter - a shocking and eye-opening account of China that ensures that no one will ever be able to think of Mao Zedong’s rule in the same way again;
The Rational Optimist: how prosperity evolves by Matt Ridley - a refreshing and incisive counter-blast to the doom-mongers, pessimists and fusspots who predict that conditions for humans are getting worse;
Caravaggio: a life sacred and profane by Andrew Graham Dixon - a compellingly vivid portrait of the dark and dangerous streets of Milan and Rome, frequented by an artist of violent tastes, whose paintings transformed art;
Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War by John Stubbs - a swaggering account of the hedonistic and dandyish Cavaliers of King Charles’ court;
Liberty's Exiles by Maya Jasanoff - a global history of the loyalist diaspora, the American losers in the Revolutionary War, whose dispersal and effect on the wider world was profound and enduring.

The surprising omission from this year’s shortlist is Edmund de Waal's much-heralded and bestselling family history, The Hare with Amber Eyes. The winner of the £20,000 prize will be announced on 6 July. Last year’s winner was Nothing to Envy, a journalistic investigation into the real lives of North Koreans in the 21st century by Barbara Demick.

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