Simon Schama Jewish history book up for literary prize

Simon Schama Schama's study is one of 18 books on the list

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A history of Judaism, a biography of Margaret Thatcher and a book about bees are all nominated for this year's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

The Story of the Jews by British historian Simon Schama is one of 18 books competing for the £20,000 prize.

Journalist Charles Moore was handpicked by Margaret Thatcher to write her story, published shortly after her death in April.

The winner will be announced in London on 4 November.

Schama's book, which looks at the Jewish story, starting 3,000 years ago, has also been serialised for BBC Two.

Exceptional children study

It features on the longlist beside Guardian journalist Charlotte Higgins' Under Another Sky about the Roman legacy in Britain.

Conservationist Dave Goulson, who has long been obsessed with wildlife, details the mysterious ways of the bumblebee.

Also nominated are former conservative MP Douglas Hurd and Edward Young's reassessment of British conservative Prime Minister Disraeli; Andrew Solomon's study of families with exceptional children; and a biography of Mount Everest explorer Griffith Pugh by Harriet Tuckey.

The prize aims to highlight original, diverse and thought-provoking books which bring non-fiction subjects to a wide audience.

It covers areas from current affairs to sport, history, travel and the arts.

Martin Rees, chair of the judges, said: "Deciding on the longlist was at once a demanding and a delightful task for the judges.

"We were privileged to have the pretext to read so many excellent books. But sifting out an agreed longlist of eighteen entailed tough choices.

"The range of titles on the list reflects the welcome diversity and quality of non-fiction writing. We're confident that readers will find much to admire and enjoy in these original, enlightening and thought-provoking books."

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis, was last year's winner.

The shortlist will be announced on 30 September, when the BBC Culture Show will broadcast pieces about the six shortlisted books.

BBC Radio 4's World at One will also broadcast a series of interviews with the shortlisted authors in the lead-up to the winner announcement.

Here is this year's longlist in full:

  • Small Wars, Far Away Places, Michael Burleigh
  • Empires of the Dead: How One Man's Vision Led to the Creation of WW1's War Graves, David Crane
  • Return of a King, William Dalrymple
  • A Sting In The Tale, Dave Goulson
  • Under Another Sky, Charlotte Higgins
  • The Memory Palace, Edward Hollis
  • The Pike, Lucy Hughes-Hallett
  • Disraeli, Douglas Hurd & Edward Young
  • Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, David Kynaston
  • Diana Vreeland: Empress of Fashion, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart
  • The War That Ended Peace, Margaret Macmillan
  • Margaret Thatcher, Charles Moore
  • Time's Anvil, Richard Morris
  • Edmund Burke: Philosopher, Politician, Prophet, Jesse Norman
  • The Story of the Jews, Simon Schama
  • Far From The Tree, Andrew Solomon
  • Everest: The First Ascent, Harriet Tuckey
  • Danubia, Simon Winder

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