The judges on the panel for the Orwell Prize for political writing deliver their verdict on the six books shortlisted for this year’s prize.
By Orwell Prize judges
Hood Rat: First-time author Gavin Knight immersed himself in the gang cultures of Manchester, Glasgow and London and those who seek to combat them, and produced a tremendous book, written with unobtrusive intelligence, vividness and clarity.
It was the best writing we came across to illuminate some of the issues thrown up by the riots of summer 2011. An impressive debut which was initially published with very little conviction and deserves a wider audience.
The Opium War: Julia Lovell’s book has the sweep of a epic. It scrapes back the barnacles and encrustations of two competing historiographies – Chinese and British – to tell how a small, chaotic, ugly and often absurd war in 1839 became the foundation of Western mistrust of Asian ‘inscrutability’ and hysterical fears of ‘Yellow Peril’, and in China became the founding myth of the modern state – one that conjures passionate resonances even today.
Lovell wears her deep knowledge, especially of China, with great lightness. Terrific: witty, stylish and authoritative.
Dark Market: Misha Glenny brings committed and exhaustive journalistic investigation to the murky world of cybercrime and its potential to create chaos. He has penetrated deeper than any other writer.
This is a unique book which explains and dramatises this secret and confusing arena, shining light into the shadowy corners where hackers are – with creepy ease – stealing from our banks, from us, and threatening the internet systems on which we have all become dependent.
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