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Samuel Johnson Prize longlist announced

18th September 2012 - 11:54am

The longlist for the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction has been announced, with 14 titles covering everything from the history of feathers to the rise of Vladimir Putin vying for the GBP 20,000 prize.

Announced today, on Dr Johnson's birthday, the list is headed by Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton, in which the Satanic Verses author tells of his decade of hiding following a fatwa being issued against him.

It is joined by Masha Gessen's The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, which tells of Putin's rise to prominence from small-scale KGB member to leader of the world's largest country.

Others include biologist Thor Hanson's Feathers; a sweeping natural history that describes how plumage has been used to fly, protect, attract and adorn through time and place, and Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways, an exploration of the ancient tracks of Britain.

Also nominated are satirist Craig Brown's One on One, which examines 101 different types of celebrity encounters, and Ray Monk's biography of one of the scientists behind the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Other contenders include Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, Into the Silence by Wade Davis, Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow and Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar.

The longlist is completed by Thomas Penn's Winter King, The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker, The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston and Sue Prideaux's Strindberg: A Life.

The winner of the 2012 prize will be announced on November 12th.

It aims to highlight original, diverse and thought-provoking books and covers areas from current affairs to sport, history, travel and the arts.

Chair of judges MP David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said 2012 has been a 'bumper year' for non-fiction.

'As judges we've enjoyed encountering new places and faces as well as enjoying classic stories being told afresh,' he added.

'The longlist reflects the diverse range of high quality non-fiction available for readers to enjoy and we hope they will be inspired to pick up some of these titles and be entertained by the true stories they tell.'

The winner of last year's Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction was Frank Dikotter for Mao's Great Famine; a modern history of China.

 

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