Tag Archives: Biography

The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2016

Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2016

Formerly known as the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction has a new sponsor this year and a longlist of ten books, whittled down last month to a shortlist of just four. Open to authors of any nationality, it covers all areas of non-fiction including current affairs, politics, history, science, sport, travel, biography and autobiography. This year’s shortlisted books are:

  • Second-Hand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich (translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich)
  • Negroland by Margo Jefferson
  • The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar
  • East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands

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The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2015 Longlist

Samuel Johnson Prize longlist

The longlist for this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction was announced today. The twelve books are:

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life by Jonathan Bate
Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance by Robert Gildea
Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane
The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World by Oliver Morton
Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia by Peter Pomerantsev
They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper by Bruce Robinson
The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World by Laurence Scott
Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman
The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq by Emma Sky
Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Tim Snyder
This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War by Samanth Subramanian

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The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards

The Golden Age of Murder‘The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story’ by Martin Edwards investigates the mysterious Detection Club of famous crime writers including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Margery Allingham amongst others. While many of the works by these authors have been dismissed by some as “cosy” crime stories compared to the more graphically violent offerings today, Edwards reveals that this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth as he investigates the stories behind the authors, their books and the curious social network that linked them together.

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A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre

A Spy Among FriendsAfter reading two excellent novels in recent months about Soviet spies recruited at Cambridge University – ‘Sweet Tooth‘ by Ian McEwan and ‘Red Joan‘ by Jennie Rooney – I was intrigued by Ben Macintyre’s biography of Kim Philby, one of the Cambridge Five spies recruited by Arnold Deutsch in the mid-1930s. Philby worked for Britain’s secret intelligence service (SIS or MI6) during the Second World War and the early years of the Cold War before his activities as a double agent for the NKVD and KGB were finally uncovered in 1963.
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The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

The Stone DiariesWinner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1995, ‘The Stone Diaries’ by Carol Shields is a fictional biography of Daisy Goodwill which outlines her life story in ten chapters covering her birth, childhood, marriage, love, motherhood, work, sorrow, ease, illness and death.  Born in Canada in 1905, Daisy’s life spans the majority of the twentieth century and is both very ordinary and yet also highly extraordinary. Continue reading

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Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper

Patrick Leigh FermorI recently won another book from the Waterstones read and review competition in which cardholders receive a free copy of a book in return for posting an honest review on the website.  This time, it was a pot luck draw and I got a copy of Artemis Cooper’s biography of the travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor.  Again, I am not sure if I can publish my official review in full on my blog but you can read it here under the name Clare90.   Continue reading

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The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick

I hardly ever read two books or more at the same time but with ‘The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama’ by David Remnick I had to make an exception.  It is a beast of a book and I would never have finished it if I hadn’t been reading some fiction alongside it over the last few weeks.  As I mentioned in my post about political biographies, almost all books about political figures are extremely weighty tomes which are crammed with more detail than you will ever need to know.  ‘The Bridge’ is no different but even though it definitely isn’t aimed at the casual reader, it is still a highly readable account of Barack Obama’s truly extraordinary life and path to the White House. Continue reading

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