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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
Johnson shortlist unveiled
BBC political editor Andrew Marr
BBC political editor Andrew Marr heads literary panel
Biographies of poet Rimbaud and economist John Maynard Keynes are on the "unashamedly heavyweight" shortlist for the 30,000 Samuel Johnson Prize.

The shortlist of six books was unveiled on Tuesday, with each nominee receiving 2,500.


Our non-fiction writing is currently eclipsing anything being done in the novel in this country

Andrew Marr
The prize is open to all authors of non-fiction books in the UK, irrespective of nationality, spanning biography to travel writing, popular science, the arts and current affairs.

Richard Fortey's Trilobite! Eyewitness To Revolution, which looks at the pre-historic crustacean which has survived for 300 million years, is one of the more intriguing books on the list.

Judges

Also shortlisted are a biography of Catherine The Great's lover Potemkin, Catherine Merridale's book, Night Of Stone: Death And Memory In Russia, and a book on The Third Reich.

The judges, chaired by the BBC's political editor Andrew Marr, include historian Niall Ferguson and managing director of the British Museum Suzanna Taverne.

The full shortlist is:-

  • Michael Burleigh - The Third Reich: A New History
  • Richard Fortey - Trilobite! Eyewitness To Evolution
  • Catherine Merridale - Night Of Stone: Death And Memory In Russia
  • Graham Robb - Rimbaud
  • Simon Sebag Montefiore - Prince Of Princes: The Life Of Potemkin
  • Robert Skidelsky - John Maynard Keynes: Fighting For Britain

    Mr Marr said: "It seems to me that our non-fiction writing is currently eclipsing anything being done in the novel in this country.

    "It is an unashamedly heavyweight list but these are groundbreaking and extraordinary books, none of which the judges felt could be put to one side."

    Antony Beevor took the prize two years ago for Stalingrad, while last year it went to biographer David Cairns for Berlioz: Servitude and Greatness.

    Previous judges on the panel have included Nigella Lawson, Stephen Fry and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.

    The winner of the 30,000 prize will be announced on 12 June.

  • See also:

    10 Jan 01 | Entertainment
    Marr to judge book prize
    06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
    Readers flock to buy literary roles
    04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
    Whitbread winners square up
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