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Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction announces shortlist

image copyrightAmos Mac/ Justine Stoddart
image captionThomas Page McBee, Hannah Fry and Ben Macintyre are all nominated

The six titles shortlisted for the 2018 Ballie Gifford Prize for non-fiction have been announced.

Four American and two British authors are in the running for the £30,000 prize money.

Titles in the list cover a number of topics, including artificial intelligence, Russian-Chinese relations and man-made environmental disaster.

The winner will be chosen by a specialist judging panel on 14 November.

The prize recognises non-fiction books in the areas of current affairs, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

David France, who wrote a history of AIDS activism, How to Survive a Plague, won the 2017 prize.

image copyrightBaillie Gifford
image captionCarl Zimmer, Stephen R Platt and Serhii Plokhy's books have been nominated for the prize

Titles included in this year's shortlist are:

  • Hannah Fry - Hello World: How to be Human in The Age of The Machine
  • Ben Macintyre - The Spy and the Traitor
  • Thomas Page McBee - Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man
  • Stephen R Platt - Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age
  • Serhii Plokhy - Chernobyl: History of A Tragedy
  • Carl Zimmer - She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions and Potential of Heredity

Three of the titles look at historical events - Serhii Plokhy's book looks at the factors that caused the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and Ben Macintyre's book is set in the Cold War and looks at the contemporary relevance of Russian politics and the current tensions that exist with the UK.

Stephen R Platt covers China's Opium War, another set of work that takes significance in the modern era of geopolitics.

Hannah Fry's book covers a different topic, looking at how algorithms have an impact on modern life.

Thomas Page McBee's memoir covers the relationship between masculinity and violence, as told from his perspective as the first trans man to fight a boxing match at Madison Square Garden.

Carl Zimmer's book also looks at identity in his book about heredity.

Fiammetta Rocco, chair of the judges, said: "To judge the 2018 Baillie Gifford prize is to feel once again how miraculous books are. We have read about history and war and science and spying.

"And along the way we've been thrilled, jolted, consoled, informed and illuminated. It's been a remarkable journey."

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