Book about WW2 resistance fighter nominated for Costa prize

Author Jack Fairweather stumbled across the story of a resistance cell in Auschwitz Image copyright Costa Book Awards
Image caption Author Jack Fairweather stumbled across the story of a resistance cell in Auschwitz

An author from Wales has been shortlisted for the 2019 Costa Book Awards.

Jack Fairweather, 40, from Abermule, near Newtown in Powys, is among 20 authors nominated for the prize.

The Volunteer profiles Polish resistance fighter Witold Pilecki who infiltrated the Nazi death camp Auschwitz to smuggle out information.

"I stumbled across this historical figure and wanted to know more," said Mr Fairweather, a former war reporter.

"When he arrived at the camp in 1940, it was a brutal place for political prisoners and he witnessed the steps of the Nazis arriving at the final solution.

"He smuggled messages out to London, and this book covers why we did nothing."

Mr Fairweather began his writing career as a war correspondent with the Daily Telegraph.

He surviving an attempted kidnapping and car bomb in Iraq while embedded with American troops in 2006, then went on to cover the war in Afghanistan for the Washington Post.

He has previously written A War of Choice about the Iraq conflict, and The Good War: Why We Couldn't Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan.

Mr Fairweather, who splits his time between Wales and the United States, is the fifth author from Wales to be shortlisted for the Costa prize.

Open to authors from the UK and Ireland, it aims to reward the most enjoyable books from the previous year across five categories - first novel, novel, biography, poetry and children's book.

Mr Fairweather added: "January 2020 will be the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and likely the last major commemoration with living witnesses.

"We need new ways to engage with this history and this story really is timely."

Judges will announce the category winners, who each receive £5,000, on 6 January 2020.

The overall winner of the 2019 Costa Book of the Year will receive £30,000 and will be announced on 28 January 2020.

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