The Orwell Prize 2017 Winner: Citizen Clem by John Bew
Described by Andrew Roberts as ‘easily the best single-volume, cradle-to-grave life of Clement Attlee yet written,’ Bew’s survey of Labour’s great post-war hero addresses head-on the paradox of how a largely quiet and reserved man led a party at its most radical, setting in place a legacy of social change that has endured for over six decades.
Citizen Clem takes the reader from Attlee’s inauspicious beginnings and through his rise in the ranks, propelled by Ramsay MacDonald to assume the cabinet seat abandoned by Oswald Mosley. The war years brought a coalition government with Churchill; by their end he was Prime Minister, presiding over issues that ran from the end of Empire to the rise of the Soviet nuclear threat.
Since 1994, The Orwell Prize has underlined and championed, in Orwell’s words, ‘to make political writing into an art.’ Citizen Clem – a book judged by Chris Mullen in the Guardian as ‘monumental ‘- fully and quite brilliantly achieves this ambition.
The 2017 Shortlist
The Guardian editor-at-large Younge addresses the chronic state of gun crime in North America by unpacking a single day of tragedy: ten dead children and teens, and not one death deemed worthy to be covered by news networks. ‘This might not be a book to make you eagerly turn pages, only because you might need to put it down to catch your breath and marshal your feelings, as one heartrending story follows another.’ – The Sunday Times