THE BEST POLITICS BOOKS: THE 2022 ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING
The Orwell Prize is the UK's most prestigious prize for writing about politics, awarded annually to books that best meet George Orwell's own ambition "to make political writing into an art." There are prizes for both political fiction and nonfiction, reflecting George Orwell's own important work in both.
Here David Edgerton, chair of the judging panel, talks us through the ten finalists for the 2022 Orwell Prize for Political Writing, awarded for a nonfiction book. From the dawn of humanity to the Covid crisis, from a study in power to the plight of the powerless, these are books that break through the mendacities of politics and rise to the challenge of our times, he explains.
Q. What kind of books were you trying to pick out?
David Edgerton: We have a pretty broad definition of what counts as political writing. We're certainly not a prize for political science or for political journalism or instant history. So, we have on our shortlist books by poets and philosophers, archaeologists and anthropologists, scientists and lawyers, historians and journalists. What we were looking for was books that change our minds about something important, that have a certain sense of urgency, that peer beneath the surface. They're political in the sense that they want to make us think in new ways or draw attention to things that are perhaps not obvious.
We're also very definitely the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. We're not interested in apologias, or clichéd political positioning. We're interested in work that gets through the mendacities of politics, that rises to the challenge of our times. To reverse a cliché, the need now is not to speak truth to power but to tell the truth about power. So, while we think of political writing as a very broad category, what we're looking for is wonderfully written, insightful and unusual books. We think the best political writing surprises us.
These are all wonderful, wonderful books: