The Orwell Prize

Orwell PrizeThe annual Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. The award is made for the work which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’.
There are two awards, one given to a book, the other to a journalist.

The shortlist is going to be announced on the 24th April, which of these do you think should be on it?

This longlist of books was chosen from 235 entries.

The Tragedy of Liberation by Frank Dikotter

In 1949 Mao Zedong hoisted the red flag over Beijing’s Forbidden City. Instead of liberating the country, the communists destroyed the old order and replaced it with a repressive system that would dominate every aspect of Chinese life. In an epic of revolution and violence which draws on newly opened party archives, interviews and memoirs, the author interweaves the stories of millions of ordinary people with the brutal politics of Mao’s court.

Sex and the Citadel by Shereen El

If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms. As political change sweeps the streets and squares, parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at upheaval a little closer to home – in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region. The result is an informative and insightful account of a highly sensitive, and still largely secret, aspect of Arab society.

The General by Ahmed Errachidi

On September 11th 2001, in a café in London, Ahmed Errachidi watched as the twin towers collapsed. In a series of terrible events, Ahmed was sold by the Pakistanis to the Americans and spent 5 years in Guantánamo. Beaten, tortured and humiliated, he did not give in, instead this very ordinary, Moroccan-born London chef became a leader of men. Known by the authorities as The General, he devised protests and resistance by any means possible- and eventually freed, his innocence admitted.

The World’s Most Dangerous Place by James Fergusson

Although the war in Afghanistan is now in its endgame, the West’s struggle to eliminate the threat from Al Qaida is far from over. In 2010 Al Qaida operatives were reportedly streaming out of central Asia towards Somalia . What is now happening in Somalia directly threatens the security of the world, how Somalia became the world’s most dangerous place and what we can or should do about it.

The British Dream by David Goodhart

One of Britain’s most influential centre-left thinkers examines UK immigration policy and argues that there have been unforeseen consequences which urgently need to be addressed.

Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape by Jay Griffiths

While travelling the world in order to write her award-winning book ‘Wild’, the author became aware of the huge differences in how childhood is experienced in various cultures. One central riddle captured her imagination: why are so many children in Euro-American cultures unhappy and why is it that children in many traditional cultures seem happier? Kith explores these questions.

This Boy by Alan Johnson

This is the story of two incredible women: Alan Johnson’s mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better future for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility to protect her family.

The Red Fortress by Catherine Merridale

The Kremlin is one of the few buildings in the world which still keeps its original, late medieval function: as a palace, built to intimidate the ruler’s subjects and to frighten foreign emissaries. ‘Red Fortress’ conveys this sense of the Kremlin as a stage set, nearly as potent under Vladimir Putin as it was under earlier, far more baleful inhabitants.

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography by Charles Moore

Published after her death on 8 April 2013, this book supersedes all earlier books written about her. At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which Moore is the first author to draw on. It recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, and takes her up to what was arguably the zenith of her power, victory in the Falklands.

Edmund Burke by Jesse Norman

Philosopher, statesman, and founder of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke is both the greatest and most under-rated political thinker of the past three-hundred years. Born in Ireland in 1729, and greatly affected by its bigotry and extremes, his career constituted a lifelong struggle against the abuse of power. Amid the 18th century’s golden generation that included his companions Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson and Edward Gibbon, Burke’s controversial mixture of conservative and subversive theories made him first a marginal figure, and finally a revered theorist – a hero of the Romantics.

The Confidence Trap by David Runciman

Why do democracies lurch from success to failure? The current financial crises is just one example of how things keep going wrong, just when it looked like they were going right. Wide-ranging, original, compelling, this is the story of modern democracy through the history of moments of crisis from WW1 to the 2008 economic crash.

One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore 

If your children were forced to testify against you, what terrible secrets would they reveal? Moscow 1945. Stalin and his courtiers celebrate victory over Hitler, then shots ring out & on a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead. It’s no ordinary tragedy and they’re no ordinary teenagers, but the children of Russia’s most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow. Murder? Suicide? Or a conspiracy against the state?

The XX Factor by Alison Wolf

Throughout history, being female defined a woman’s fate. Now, women’s careers rival men’s. But while these changes are revolutionary, their impact is unequal: in reality, the ‘sisterhood’ of working women is deeply divided. Since the groundbreaking 1960s, working women have drifted further apart. This title explores the topic of women in the workplace.

Coolie Woman by Gaiutra Bahadur Feki (not in stock)

In 1903 a Brahmin woman sailed from India to Guyana as a ‘coolie’, the name the British gave to the million indentured labourers they recruited for sugar plantations worldwide after slavery ended. The woman, who claimed no husband, was pregnant and travelling alone. A century later, her great-granddaughter embarks on a journey into the past, hoping to solve a mystery: what made her leave her country? And had she also left behind a man? Gaiutra Bahadur, an American journalist, pursues traces of her great-grandmother over three continents. She also excavates the repressed history of some quarter of a million female coolies. Disparaged as fallen, many were runaways, widows or outcasts, and many migrated alone.

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