NCR Book Award
The NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction, established in 1987 and sponsored by NCR Corporation, was for a time the UK's major award for non-fiction. Closing in 1997 after a period of decline and scandal, it is best remembered as the forerunner of the Samuel Johnson Prize.
The award was founded at a time when there were no major non-fiction awards in Britain comparable to the highly successful Booker Prize for fiction. It was part of a new "golden age" of non-fiction that started in the 1980s, according to Antony Beevor. In the early 1990s, NCR was acquired by AT&T and the award became rudderless and dated; one critic said the "NCR spoke volumes of the Thatcherised values of contemporary English culture – a winner-takes-all triumphalism, a boastful indifference to good writing, a corresponding obsession with design and presentation". In 1997, the award experienced an existential scandal when it was revealed the judges had used "professional readers", summaries and book reviews instead of reading all of the entries. In response, one of the previous winners, Peter Hennessy, approached Penguin with the idea for a new award, and an anonymous benefactor was found who funded the establishment of the Samuel Johnson Prize (1999). Facing bad publicity and a tarnished reputation, the NCR Award closed out with A People's Tragedy in 1997.
- 1988 David Thomson, Nairn in Darkness and Light (Hutchinson)
- 1989 Joe Simpson, Touching the Void (Jonathan Cape)
- 1990 Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (Viking)
- 1991 Claire Tomalin, The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (Viking)
- 1992 Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (HarperCollins)
- 1993 Peter Hennessy, Never Again: Britain 1945-1951 (Jonathan Cape)
- 1994 John Campbell, Edward Heath: A Biography (Jonathan Cape)
- 1995 Mark Hudson, Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village (Jonathan Cape)
- 1996 Eric Lomax, The Railway Man (Jonathan Cape)
- 1997 Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 (Jonathan Cape)
- Robert McCrum (16 June 2001). "A life of the Samuel Johnson Prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
- Antony Beevor (29 June 2008). "The BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
- David Harrison (18 May 1997). "From the Observer archive, 18 May 1997: Literary prize judges admit failure to read all the books". The Guardian. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
- David Lister (3 April 1999). "What Does It Take To Win A Literary Prize?: 250 Book Prizes - and still counting". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- "The 1996 NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction Shortlist Announced" (Press release). 22 April 1996. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
- "Eric Lomax (Obit)". The Telegraph. 9 October 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2018.