Jack Fairweather’s 2019 biography “The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz” won the Costa Book Award in the biography category this week. Fairweather spent years researching and writing about Witold Polecki, a Polish resistance fighter who volunteered to go into the concentration camp, organized a resistance movement from within, and then successfully escaped.
“I’m so thrilled to have won,” Fairweather said. “I wrote the book because I wanted to share my passion for the amazing man at the heart of it, Witold Pilecki. He’s such an inspiring hero who fought against the greatest of evils in Auschwitz and triumphed only to fall victim to the Communist after the war. I hope that this award will bring more people to his remarkable story.”
“The Volunteer” was published in June to international acclaim: The Wall Street Journal declared it “superb,” a starred Kirkus review called it “an inspiring story beautifully told,” and The Telegraph says simply that it is “extraordinary.”
The prize is given to five books by resident writers in the UK and Ireland in the categories of First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry, and Children’s Book. One of the five books will be awarded the Book of the Year prize at the end of the month.
Fairweather was born in Wales and currently lives in Charlotte with his wife, journalist Christina Asquith, and their three daughters. He is on the board of The Charlotte News.