Titles on Chairman Mao, the Cavaliers of the English Civil War and Italian artist Caravaggio have been shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2011.
The six-strong list “a reflection of a remarkable publishing year” features Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter (Bloomsbury), Reprobates by John Stubbs (Viking) and "Culture Show" presenter Andrew Graham Dixon's Caravaggio (Allen Lane).
Also on the list, announced this evening (14th June) is The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley (Fourth Estate), Bismarck: A Life by Jonathan Steinberg (Oxford University Press) and Liberty's Exiles by Maya Jasanoff (HarperPress).
Chair of judges, author and journalist, Ben Macintyre, said: "This year's shortlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize is a tribute to the breadth and depth of non-fiction writing, a reflection of a remarkable publishing year in which more books have been considered for the prize than ever before.
"As chairman of the judges, I find myself feeling, even before we begin our final deliberations, that while one of these great books certainly deserves to win, five do not deserve to lose."
The winner of the £20,000 prize, now in its 13th year, will be revealed on 6th July. BBC2's "The Culture Show" will broadcast a special edition on the prize on the 7th.