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ICSR Partner Sir Lawrence Freedman Wins Lionel Gelber Book Prize

ICSR Partner Sir Lawrence Freedman Wins Lionel Gelber Book Prize
10th March 2009 ICSR Team
In ICSR's News

ICSR is delighted to congratulate our founding partner Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman on being awarded the prestigious 2009 Lionel Gelber Prize for his recent book on the Middle East. Sir Lawrence’s book A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East examines decades of American military, political, and economic involvement in the region. We include the Lionel Gerber press release below for more information on the award.

Lionel Gelber press release

March 10, 2009 (Toronto and Washington, D.C.) ─ Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of Britain’s most distinguished historians, has won the 2009 Lionel Gelber Prize for his book A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East, published in Canada by Doubleday Canada.

‘If you were to select only one book to understand the turmoil and confusion of events in the Middle East over the past 30 years, this is a perfect choice,’ said Noah Rubin, Chair of the Lionel Gelber Prize, in announcing the winner today. Rubin is grandnephew of Lionel Gelber, the Canadian scholar, author and diplomat renowned for his work in international relations.

Now in its 19th year, the $15,000 prize is presented by the Lionel Gelber Foundation in partnership with the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto and FOREIGN POLICY magazine.

Lawrence Freedman will accept the award in Toronto on Tuesday 31 March 2009 at 18.00 at the Munk Centre where he will deliver the annual Lionel Gelber Lecture.

Foreign Policy magazine and The Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University will co-host an event the evening of 2 April in Washington.

On hearing that he had won the 2009 Lionel Gelber Prize, Professor Freedman said:‘My aim with A Choice of Enemies was to try to make sense of events that were often as confusing as they were controversial. I am obviously thrilled that my efforts have been recognised by such a distinguished panel of judges for such a prestigious prize.’

Freedman’s book examines three decades of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, reaching back to the presidency of Jimmy Carter. ‘A Choice of Enemies is an epic work of scholarship and analysis, covering a huge swath of U.S. foreign policy engagement in revelatory detail,’ said Jury Chair George Russell. ‘Lawrence Freedman depicts America’s Middle East entanglements in lucid, magisterial prose as an absorbing mixture of accident, personality, idealistic intentions and realpolitik, mostly purposeful and sometimes gone awry. This book is an indispensable guide to the most strategically contested and volatile region in the world.’

In A Choice of Enemies Freedman writes: ‘The events of the last decade have taken their toll, and the United States does not enjoy the prestige and influence in the Middle East that it did as recently as the early 1990s. Nonetheless, no other external actor has so much power or applies it so regularly to Middle Eastern affairs.’

Freedman has been professor of War Studies at King’s College in London since 1982. He is the official historian of the Falklands War and author of the prize-winningKennedy’s Wars. Before joining King’s College he held research appointments at Nuffield College at Oxford and the Royal Institute for International Affairs. He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1996.

Gideon Rachman’s review in The Financial Times says the book is “a linked narrative of all the problems confronting the US” and gives “an unrivalled sense of all the pressures and trade-offs facing American presidents.” He also praises the book as“both a fast-paced introduction for lay readers and a fresh analysis that will appeal to experts.”

The Economist magazine has called the Lionel Gelber Prize “the world’s most important award for non-fiction.”

Other finalists for the 2009 Lionel Gelber prize included:

  • Bill Emmott for Rivals: How the Power Struggle between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade (Allen Lane)
  • Misha Glenny for McMafia: A Journey through the Global Criminal Underworld (Anansi)
  • Ahmed Rashid for Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (Viking)
  • Fareed Zakaria for The Post-American World (W. W. Norton)

Members of the 2009 Lionel Gelber Prize Jury:

  • George Russell, chair, is executive editor of Fox News. He was the president and editor of Time magazine in Canada.
  • William Drozdiak has been president of the American Council on Germany since 2005. He worked for The Washington Post for 20 years.
  • David M. Malone was named president of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in July 2008, after serving as Canada’s High Commissioner to India.
  • Walter Russell Mead is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His book Special Providence won the Lionel Gelber Prize in 2002.
  • Amity Shlaes is a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.

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