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Christopher Hitchens leads Orwell Prize longlist

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The late Christopher Hitchens is one of 18 authors selected for the Orwell Prize for political writing.

book by the late Christopher Hitchens is leading the field for this year’s Orwell Prize for best political book. Arguably, a collection of essays whose subjects range from the War on Terror to Diana, Princess of Wales, was praised by Nicholas Shakespeare in the Telegraph as displaying the author's characteristic “wit, intelligence and passion”. Shortlisted last year for his memoir Hitch-22, Hitchens has been described as the heir to Orwell, but has never won the £3,000 prize which seeks to reward the art of political writing.



A strong theme in this year’s longlist is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Among the 18-book longlist includes Cables from Kabul by Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador to Afghanistan from 2007-10. His book was described in the Telegraph as a “supremely urbane, frustrated and brilliant valedictory diagnosis” of the country’s problems. Another ex-diplomat, Rodric Braithwaite, who was the ambassador to Moscow from 1988-1992, is selected for Afgansty, his history of the Russian occupation. Also included is Toby Harnden’s searing account of a Welsh Guards tour of Helmand, Dead Men Risen, and Anatole Lieven’s Pakistan: a Hard Country.



Closer to home there is also space for Sonia Purnell’s critical biography of London Mayor Boris Johnson and Robin Harris’s witty new history of the Conservative Party. Douglas Murray’s unravelling of the Bloody Sunday inquiry also makes the longlist, as does journalist Richard Lloyd Parry’s account of the murder in Tokyo of British woman Lucie Blackman. The books were selected from a record 264 submitted titles.



On the longlist for journalist of the year is the Telegraph's Chief Political Commentator Peter Oborne and the longlisted bloggers include Toby Young for his Telegraph blog. The full lists can be found on the Orwell Prize website.



This year's shortlists are announced next month and the winners on May 23.



Book longlist in full

The Beautiful and the Damned by Siddhartha Deb



Afgansty by Rodric Braithwaite



Pakistan by Anatol Lieven



The Conservatives: a History by Robin Harris



A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead



To Die For by Lucy Siegle



The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs



Arguably by Christopher Hitchens



The Opium War by Julia Lovell



Just Boris by Sonia Purnell



Dead Men Risen by Toby Harnden



Cables from Kabul by Sherard Cowper-Coles



Adventures in the Orgasmatron by Christopher Turner



Unfair Trade by Conor Woodman



Dark Market by Misha Glenny



People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry



Hood Rat by Gavin Knight



Bloody Sunday by Douglas Murray