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Ben Macintyre to chair BBC Samuel Johnson Prize

15th February 2011

The BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2011 will be chaired by bestselling espionage historian Ben Macintyre, it has been announced.

Macintyre, whose works include Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, will head a panel comprising fellow author and journalist Sam Leith, biographer Brenda Maddox, historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery and Prospect's editor-at-large David Goodhart.

The prize is awarded each year to a non-fiction book published in the UK, regardless of the author's country of origin, and previous winners include Kate Summerscale and Jonathan Coe.

Mark Bell, BBC commissioning arts editor, said the award will bring the winner greater recognition, as well as a GBP 20,000 prize.

Macintyre added: 'The wealth of superb non-fiction writing is so great at the moment that we expect the task of selecting an overall winner to be demanding and hotly-debated, but also tremendously enjoyable.'

An initial longlist of around 20 titles will be unveiled in late April, with a shortlist of up to six books announced in early June.

Last year's BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction was won by Barbara Demick for Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, which the judges described as 'both gripping and moving'.

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