Dutch historian Frank Dikotter has won the 2011 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction for Mao's Great Famine, his study of China's ill-fated Great Leap Forward policy.
Dikotter beat off competition from Andrew Graham Dixon's Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, Liberty's Exiles by Maya Jasanoff and Matt Ridley's The Rational
Optimist to scoop the GBP 20,000 prize.
Jonathan Steinberg's Bismarck: A Life and John Stubbs' Reprobates were the other titles shortlisted for the prize, which is awarded each year to a work of 'diverse and thought-provoking' non-fiction published in the UK.
Chair of the judges Ben Macintyre said Mao's Great Famine is an 'epic record of human folly' and a worthy winner of the award.
'This meticulous account of a brutal man-made calamity is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the history of the 20th century,' Macintyre added.
Dikotter follows in the footsteps of Barbara Demick, who won last year's Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction with Nothing to Envy, her account of living in North Korea.