Baillie Gifford/Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction


  •  Philippe Sands, East West Street
  • Svetlana Alexievich, Second-hand Time (translated by Bela Shayevich)
  • Margo Jefferson, Negroland: A Memoir
  • Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between


  •  Steve Silberman, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently
  • Jonathan Bate, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life
  • Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks
  • Laurence Scott, The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World
  • Emma Sky, The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq
  • Samanth Subramanian, This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan Civil War


  •  Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk
  • John Campbell, Roy Jenkins; A Biography
  • Marion Coutts, The Iceberg: a Memoir
  • Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World
  • Alison Light, Common People: The History of an English Family
  • Caroline Moorehead, Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France


  •  Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Pike (about the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio)
  • David Crane, Empires of the Dead: How One Man’s Vision led to the Creation of WWI’s World Graves
  • William Dalrymple, Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
  • Dave Goulson, A Sting in the Tale
  • Charlotte Higgins, Under Another Sky
  • Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography


  •  Wade Davis, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest
  • Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum
  • Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
  • Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity
  • Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain
  • Sue Prideaux, Strindberg: A Life


  •  Frank Dikötter, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–1962
  • Andrew Graham-Dixon, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane
  • Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World
  • Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
  • Jonathan Steinberg, Bismarck: A Life
  • John Stubbs, Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War


  •  Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
  • Alex Bellos, Alex’s Adventures in Numberland: Dispatches from the Wonderful World of Mathematics
  • Luke Jennings, Blood Knots: On Fathers, Friendship and Fishing
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin, Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves
  • Jenny Uglow, A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration
  • Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human


  •  Philip Hoare, Leviathan or, The Whale
  • Liaquat Ahamed, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World
  • Ben Goldacre, Bad Science
  • David Grann, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
  • Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
  • Manjit Kumar, Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality


  •  Kate Summerscale, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or the Murder at Road Hill House
  • Tim Butcher, Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart
  • Mark Cocker, Crow Country
  • Orlando Figes, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia
  • Patrick French, The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of VS Naipaul
  • Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century


  •  Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone
  • Ian Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance
  • Peter Hennessey, Having it so Good: Britain in the Fifties
  • Georgina Howell, Daughter of the Desert: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell
  • Dominic Streatfeild, Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control
  • Adrian Tinniswood, The Verneys: A True Story of Love, War, and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England


  •  James S. Shapiro, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
  • Alan Bennett, Untold Stories
  • Jerry Brotton, The Sale of the Late King’s Goods: Charles I and his Art Collection
  • Carmen Callil, Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family & Fatherland
  • Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
  • Tom Reiss, The Orientalist: In Search of a Man Caught between East and West


  •  Jonathan Coe, Like A Fiery Elephant: The Story of B. S. Johnson
  • Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards
  • Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
  • Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City
  • Hilary Spurling, Matisse the Master: The Conquest of Colour 1909–1954
  • Sarah Wise, The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave-Robbery in 1830s London


  •  Anna Funder, Stasiland – True Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall
  • Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps
  • Jonathan Bate, John Clare: A Biography
  • Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
  • Aidan Hartley, The Zanzibar Chest: A Memoir of Love and War
  • Tom Holland, Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic


  •  T. J. Binyon, Pushkin: A Biography
  • Orlando Figes, Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia
  • Aminatta Forna, The Devil that Danced on the Water: A Daughter’s Memoir of her Father, her Family, her Country and a Continent
  • Olivia Judson, Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex
  • Claire Tomalin, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
  • Edgar Vincent, Nelson: Love and Fame


  •  Margaret MacMillan, Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War
  • Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village
  • William Fiennes, The Snow Geese
  • Richard Hamblyn, The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies
  • Roy Jenkins, Churchill: a Biography
  • Brendan Simms, Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia


  •  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, 1937–1946


  •  David Cairns, Berlioz: Volume 2
  • Tony Hawks, Playing the Moldovans at Tennis
  • Brenda Maddox, Yeats’s Ghosts: The Secret Life of W.B. Yeats
  • Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters
  • William Shawcross, Deliver us from Evil: Warlords, Peacekeepers and a World of Endless Conflict
  • Francis Wheen, Karl Marx


  •  Antony Beevor, Stalingrad
  • Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris
  • Ann Wroe, Pilate: The Biography of an Invented Man
  • John Diamond, C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too
  • Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections
  • David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

As of November 13, 2017 (on my discovery of this list), I’ve read one, have two others on my shelves at home, and have been meaning to read a fourth for a long time. Some of these I’ll probably never read; I think, for example, that I probably know enough about Shakespeare and World War II by now, and have little interest in learning more about Churchill.


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