From Afghanistan to England’s green and pleasant land; from the creation of the War Graves, to the plight of the bumblebee; from the lady who was not for turning to the poet turned fascist dictator – it can only be the 15th Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist…
Charles Moore‘s definitive biography of Margaret Thatcher leads the race, but he may face a threat from fellow biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett‘s life of Gabriele D’Annunzio – the poet turned failed fascist dictator.
History lovers too have a couple of strong contenders to back, including William Dalrymple‘s much lauded analysis of the First Afghan War, and David Crane‘s moving, and at times shocking, account of the creation of the War Graves after WWI.
As always, there are a couple of titles which defy categorisation. This year, Dave Goulson combines memoir with natural history in his story of the decline of the bumblebee, whilst Charlotte Higgins takes us on a journey through the countryside of modern Britain in her attempt to rediscover the remains of its Roman history.
“This year’s shortlist is a fantastic selection which showcases some of the very best of this year’s serious non-fiction.” said our Non-Fiction buyer Bea Carvalho. “With such varied subjects as the importance of bumblebees and Roman Britain covered, as well as titles representing two of the key themes in this year’s publishing – World War One and the life of Margaret Thatcher – this is a strong and thought-provoking list with something to suit every taste.”
The overall winner of the £20,000 prize will be announced on 4th November.
Empires of the Dead: How One Man’s Vision Led to the Creation of WW1’s War Graves, David Crane (William Collins)
Return of a King, William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury)
A Sting In The Tale, Dave Goulson (Jonathan Cape)
Under Another Sky, Charlotte Higgins (Jonathan Cape)
The Pike, Lucy Hughes-Hallett (4th Estate)
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Charles Moore (Allen Lane)