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Home / Arts / Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction – 2015 Shortlist

 

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Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction – 2015 Shortlist

The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction is the UK’s premier prize for non-fiction books. The prize aims to reward the best of non-fiction and is open to authors of all non-fiction books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

The Samuel Johnson prize is funded by an anonymous sponsor. The BBC televises the awards sand feature complementary programming – forming a key part of their commitment to diverse, intelligent and culturally enriching programmes.
The Unraveling: high hopes and missed opportunities in Iraq by Emma Sky

“When Emma Sky volunteered to help rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, she had little idea what she was getting in to. Her assignment was only supposed to last three months. She went on to serve there longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, giving her an unrivaled perspective of the entire conflict. … With sharp detail and tremendous empathy, Sky provides unique insights into the US military as well as the complexities, diversity, and evolution of Iraqi society. The Unraveling is an intimate insider’s portrait of how and why the Iraq adventure failed and contains a unique analysis of the course of the war. Highlighting how nothing that happened in Iraq after 2003 was inevitable, Sky exposes the failures of the policies of both Republicans and Democrats, and the lessons that must be learned about the limitations of power.” publisher

This Divided Island by Samanth Subramanian

“In the summer of 2009, the leader of the dreaded Tamil Tiger guerrillas was killed, bringing to an end the civil war in Sri Lanka. For nearly thirty years, the war’s fingers had reached everywhere, leaving few places, and fewer people, untouched. What happens to the texture of life in a country that endures such bitter conflict? What happens to the country’s soul? Subramanian gives us an extraordinary account of the Sri Lankan war and the lives it changed. Taking us to the ghosts of summers past, he tells the story of Sri Lanka today. Through travels and conversations, he examines how people reconcile themselves to violence, how the powerful become cruel, and how victory can be put to the task of reshaping memory and burying histories.” publisher

Neurotribes: the legacy of autism and how to think smarter about people who think differently by Steve Silberman

“A groundbreaking book that upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently. What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.” publisher

Ted Hughes: the unauthorised life by Jonathan Bate

“Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate, was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. He was one of Britain’s most important poets, his work infused with myth; a love of nature, conservation, and ecology; of fishing and beasts in brooding landscapes. With an equal gift for poetry and prose, and with a soul as capacious as any poet in history, he was also a prolific children’s writer and has been hailed as the greatest English letter-writer since John Keats. His magnetic personality and insatiable appetite for friendship, love, and life also attracted more scandal than any poet since Lord Byron. His lifelong quest to come to terms with the suicide of his first wife, Sylvia Plath, is the saddest and most infamous moment in the public history of modern poetry.” publisher

Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane

“Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land, nature and weather. Travelling from Cumbria to the Cairngorms, and exploring the landscapes of Roger Deakin, J. A. Baker, Nan Shepherd and others, Robert Macfarlane shows that language, well used, is a keen way of knowing landscape, and a vital means of coming to love it.” publisher

The Four-Dimenstional Human by Laurence Scott

“This is constellation of everyday digital phenomena is rewiring our inner lives. We are increasingly coaxed from the three-dimensional containment of our pre-digital selves into a wonderful and eerie fourth dimension, a world of ceaseless communication, instant information and global connection. Our portals to this new world have been wedged open, and the silhouette of a figure is slowly taking shape. But what does it feel like to be four-dimensional? How do digital technologies influence the rhythms of our thoughts, the style and tilt of our consciousness? What new sensitivities and sensibilities are emerging with our exposure to the delights, sorrows and anxieties of a networked world? And how do we live in public, with these recoded private lives? Tackling ideas of time, space, friendship, commerce, pursuit and escape, and moving from Hamlet to the ghosts of social media, from Seinfeld to the fall of Gaddafi, from Facebook politics to Oedipus, The Four-Dimensional Human is a highly original and pioneering portrait of life in a digital landscape.” publisher (not released in Canada until 2016)

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Welcome to The Reader, a blog from the Readers' Services staff at Halifax Public Libraries. Our goal is to create a forum for book news and related discussion among leisure readers. A place for Halifax leisure readers to interact with their library and the larger community of leisure readers.

 

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