2024 Political Writing Book prize winner

   Political Writing book prize winner  

The Picnic

Matthew Longo

Published by: Vintage

In the summer of 1989, a group of Hungarian activists did something unthinkable: they entered the forbidden militarised zone of the Iron Curtain – and held a picnic. They were joined by East German holidaymakers in Ladas rolling up for goulash, beer and brass-bands. I did not know this story and I loved the way it surprised me and captured the time, the idealism, and the role of ordinary citizens in the unravelling of the Iron curtain – as well as its echoes for today. Wonderfully told through extensive interviews with everyone from the human rights activist who came up with the madcap idea, the stubborn young woman who made it happen, to Stasi agents and border guards.


Christina Lamb, Orwell Prize for Political Writing judge 2024