Not-so-stupid white man wins book prize

Andrew Johnson
Tuesday 25 February 2003 01:00

Michael Moore, a satirist and scourge of the American establishment who has waged an unrelenting onslaught against President George Bush, won the top prize at the British Book Awards last night for his book Stupid White Men.

The award comes after Mr Moore won a Cesar – a French Oscar – on Saturday, for his documentary film Bowling for Columbine, a searing indictment of American gun culture.

But Stupid White Men almost never saw the light of day after publishers deemed it "unpatriotic" after 9/11 and demanded Mr Moore rewrite large sections. When he refused, they shelved it. But a campaign for its release succeeded and it has since gone on to be a best seller on both sides of the Atlantic, selling 320,000 copies in the UK alone since it went on sale last year.

Using a combination of investigative journalism, satire and humour, it pummels home the message that Mr Bush "lost" the US election, was funded by his father's oil friends, and suggests that a possible war in Iraq is partly about repaying those funds.

It was a surprise winner, beating favourites such as Roy Keane's autobiography, the Booker Prize-winner, Life of Pi, by Yann Martel and Ian McEwan's Atonement. Mr Moore's victory was boosted by a strong telephone vote from the public – the first time readers have participated in the judging alongside members of the industry.

Merric Davidson, the awards organiser, said: "It looks like a very strong anti-war vote.The Keane book got a lot of votes from the Manchester area, but Moore's book proved nationally popular."

The Biography of the Year Award went to Roy Jenkins's Churchill. The Film and TV Book Award went to style guru's Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine for What Not to Wear. Alan Bennett, the playwright, picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award and novelist Sarah Waters won Author of the Year.

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