Awards samueljohnsonprize

Published on September 30th, 2013


Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2013 Shortlist

Read reviews for the books shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction, announced 30 September 2013.

cranecoverEmpires of the Dead by David Crane

In 1914, Fabian Ware joined the Red Cross, working on the frontline in France. Horrified by the hasty burials, he recorded the identity and position of the graves. His work was officially recognised, with a Graves Registration Commission being set up. As reports of their work became public, the Commission was flooded with letters from grieving relatives around the world. David Crane gives a moving account of the creation of the great citadels to the dead. (William Collins)

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dalrymplecoverReturn of a King by William Dalrymple

The First Anglo-Afghan War ended in Britain’s greatest military humiliation of the nineteenth century: an entire army of the then most powerful nation in the world ambushed in retreat and utterly routed by poorly equipped tribesmen. Return of a King is the definitive analysis of the First Afghan War, told through the lives of unforgettable characters on all sides and using for the first time contemporary Afghan accounts of the conflict. (Bloomsbury)

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stingcoverA Sting In The Tale by Dave Goulson

One of the UK’s most respected conservationists and the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Goulson combines Gerald Durrell-esque tales of a child’s growing passion for nature with a deep insight into the crucial importance of the bumblebee. He details the minutiae of life in their nests, sharing fascinating research into the effects intensive farming has had on our bee populations and on the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path. (Jonathan Cape)

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higginscoverUnder Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins

What does Roman Britain mean to us now? How were its physical remains rediscovered and made sense of? How has it been reimagined, in story and song and verse? Charlotte Higgins has traced these tales by setting out to discover the remains of Roman Britain for herself, sometimes on foot, sometimes in a splendid, though not particularly reliable, VW camper van. Under Another Sky invites us to see the British landscape, and British history, in an entirely fresh way. (Jonathan Cape)

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hugheshalletcoverThe Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Lucy Hughes-Hallett charts the controversial life of Gabriele D’Annunzio, the debauched artist who became Italy’s national hero. His evolution from idealist Romantic to radical right-wing revolutionary is a political parable. Through his ideological journey, culminating in the failure of the Fiume endeavour, we witness the political turbulence of early 20th century Europe and the emergence of fascism. (Fourth Estate)

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moorecoverMargaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography by Charles Moore 

The first volume of Charles Moore’s authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era. This volume ends with the Falklands Dinner in Downing Street in November 1982. (Allen Lane)

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The shortlist was chosen by Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal (chair of judges); classicist, Mary Beard; Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti; historian, Peter Hennessy; and writer and non-fiction reviewer, James McConnachie.

This year’s winner will be announced on 4 November at the prize annual dinner at RIBA.

Visit the Samuel Johnson Prize website

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