Non-fiction book about autism wins the Samuel Johnson prize

This year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, and its associated £20,000 award, has been given to Author Steve Silberman for his book about autism.

Entitled “Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently”, the book was praised by judges for being a work of immense value for the public, built on a foundation of journalistic and scientific research.

Steve Silberman lives in San Francisco and has written on wide range of scientific topics for publications including Wired, the New Yorker, the MIT Technology Review, and Nature for over 20 years.

Historian Anne Applebaum, who led the judging panel for the award, said that Silberman’s “compassionate journalism” was something to be commended, and that his book helped to raised awareness for autism, particularly because it uses stories and anecdotes to simplify complex medical terminology and scenarios.

She said: “We admired Silberman’s work because it is powered by a strongly argued set of beliefs: that we should stop drawing sharp lines between what we assume to be ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, and that we should remember how much the differently-wired human brain has, can and will contribute to our world.

“He has injected a hopeful note into a conversation that’s normally dominated by despair.”

Neotribes is the first popular science book to win the Samuel Johnson Prize in the course of its 17-year history, with last year’s winner being the highly acclaimed “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald.

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