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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Johnson prize shortlist announced
Churchill
Roy Jenkins' book documents the life of Churchill
A book documenting the life of Winston Churchill has been shortlisted for the most valuable non-fiction literary prize.

The BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize rewards the best in non-fiction from biographies to science books, with the winner receiving 30,000.

The panel of judges, which include BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby and author Robert Harris, have whittled down the entries to a shortlist of six.

The diverse nature of the literature prize means heavyweight political books nestle alongside scientific titles such as Richard Hamblyn's The Invention of Clouds.

Famous father

Roy Jenkins' book Churchill tells the life story of the influential leader from his childhood to his status as a parliamentary statesman.

Robert Harris
Enigma author Robert Harris is a judge

Jenkins' is well-placed to write about the World War II prime minister as his father Arthur was a junior minister in Churchill's coalition and in the early months of the Labour administration.

Other shortlisted books include Eamon Duffy's The Voices of Morebath which tackles life pre-Reformation and Margaret MacMillan's Peacemakers which deals with the people involved in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.

The debut book of William Fiennes, The Snow Geese, documents the journey of migrating snow geese home to the Canadian Arctic and their return leg has also made the list.

Televised

Dimbleby will be chairing the panel of judges which also includes Sunday Times literary editor Caroline Gascoigne, writer and critic Bonnie Greer and geologist and scientific writer Richard Fortey.

Political biographies been particular favourites with judges in the opening years of the Samuel Johnson Prize.

The first winner - in 1999 - was Anthony Beevor's Stalingrad, and The Third Reich: A New History by Michael Burleigh picked up the prize last year.

The single volume work is a radical re-examination of the Third Reich, which charts the rise of Nazi Germany, recreating life under a totalitarian dictatorship.

Digital arts and culture channel BBC Four will televise the award ceremony on 24 June.

The shortlist is:

  • The Voices of Morebath by Eamon Duffy

  • The Snow Geese by William Fiennes

  • The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn

  • Churchill by Roy Jenkins

  • Peacemakers by Margaret Macmillan

  • Unfinest Hour by Brendan Simms
  • See also:

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