2017 LIONEL GELBER PRIZE

SHORTLIST

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon 
by Rosa Brooks
Published by Simon & Schuster


Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World
by Shadi Hamid
Published by St. Martin’s Press

The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War
by Arkady Ostrovsky
Published by Viking

Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran
by Laura Secor
published by Allen Lane Canada/Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House

A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS
by Robert F. Worth
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the world’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues, was founded in 1989 by Canadian diplomat Lionel Gelber.  A cash prize of $15,000 is awarded to the winner. The award is presented annually by The Lionel Gelber Foundation, in partnership with Foreign Policy magazine and the Munk School of Global Affairs.





The winner will be announced on February 28 and invited to speak at a free public event at Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on March 29, 2017.

 
A Conversation With Robert F. Worth, Author of A Rage For Order
 

 
Robert F. Worth loves the Middle East saying that there is "something very wonderful about the culture" that has drawn him to report on the area.

During a phone interview right before he received the Lionel Gelber Prize for his book A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Worth spoke about his book. Unlike many books about Arab Spring Worth brings the reader to the front lines with the common man. From best friends in Syria whose different sects tore them apart to those who tried to bridge the peace in Egypt Worth's personal relationships brings a rare look at the faces whose lives were touched and changed by the events of the era.

Those relationships took time to cultivate. Worth was writing articles for magazines about Arab Spring in 2013 when he knew that he would be going more in depth. He first had a contact to write solely about Yemen but A Rage For Order was a story that had to be told. At that time he had already meet several of the key figures that are in his book. For the next several years he spent travelling throughout the region to get more details.
 
 
It wasn't an easy task. "Getting into Syria in 2013 was not easy," Worth said. The next year he was able to venture into the war torn country two or three times. Those trips brought to light one of the most compelling pages in his book, the story of Aliaa Ali (Alawi) and her childhood friend Noura Kanafani (Sunni). Growing up the two were as close as friends could be, their religious backgrounds did not factor in nor did it factor for others that lived in their community. Until Arab Spring. A divide that couldn't be fixed set in place. It's a story that has been repeated over and over in Syria.

Worth said that the two women still have a lot of feelings for each other but that hasn't stopped the hatred from spewing from their mouths. Noura today has a very narrow minded headset which Worth believes was heightened by her husband. "She married a jerk."

Meanwhile in Egypt Muhammad Beltagy was trying to bridge the gap between the youth and older members of the Brotherhood. Worth said he was impressed with the man during the start of the protests and the sit-ins during the Egyptian Revolution. Since those days Worth says that Beltagy was become "full on with the Brotherhood."

For those living in the West understanding how the happenings in the Arab world could take place is very difficult. Worth said that many in the West are "very frightened of Islam and its hard for them to separate religion in order to see the people themselves as human beings."

Each person detailed in A Rage For Order helps to bring a clearer view of a mind-set that is foreign to those in the West. Unlike many academic style books Worth's story is easy to grasp, allowing readers to understand how Arab Spring took place and what motivates the Arab world today.

Now living with his wife and children in Washington D.C. Worth misses being immersed in the culture on a daily basis. With the new administration in place in his new hometown he says, "I wake up every morning in a state of disbelief." He admits not being up-to-date with US policy but sees a disconnect with those living elsewhere in the world, placing some of the blame on the media.

As for his book Worth wants readers to understand how the sense of those in the Middle East believe that a movement can make social change happen. The small changes that can collapse an entire system. In this era of wanting instant change, the issues in the Middle East can not be fixed quickly. "To restructure the government and judicial systems will be painfully slow."

For those who are raised with the belief that sudden revolution is the Holy Grail this restructure may never take place in our lifetime.

As the interview wrapped up Worth noted "how easy it is to view that lives don't matter and that sudden revolution is very rarely a good thing."

 
Robert F. Worth's Rage for Order Wins the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize
 Sara Charney, Chair of the Lionel Gelber Prize Board and niece of the late Lionel Gelber, today announced that the winner of the 27th annual Lionel Gelber Prize is Robert F. Worth for his book A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

"The Arab Spring's ebb and flow was so sudden that its consequence can be mistaken as fleeting. Robert F. Worth's Rage for Order makes the case otherwise, revealing how the events of 2010 had been years, perhaps decades, in the making, and their aftershocks may be just as lasting. Worth traverses the countries that shook the Middle East to its core, telling the region's political conflicts through the eyes of individuals who tried to bend the course of history. Through courageous reporting and empathetic writing, Worth makes clear that the popular will behind the Arab Spring has not receded, nor has the power behind its suppression abated," said Jury Chair John Stackhouse.

Robert F. Worth spent 14 years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and was the paper's Beirut bureau chief from 2007 until 2011. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books. He has twice been a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Born and raised in Manhattan, he now lives in Washington, D.C.

The 2017 jury members are John Stackhouse, Chair, (Toronto, Canada); 2016 Lionel Gelber Prize winner and journalist Scott Shane (Maryland, USA), Professor Allison Stanger (Vermont, USA), Dr. Astrid Tuminez (Singapore), and Professor Antje Wiener (Hamburg, Germany).

Coinciding with the announcement of the 27th winner is the launch of a highly integrated new prize website, Explore this rich history  here

A literary award for the world's best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues, the Lionel Gelber Prize was founded in 1989 by Canadian diplomat Lionel Gelber. The award is presented annually by The Lionel Gelber Foundation, in partnership with Foreign Policy magazine and the Munk School of Global Affairs. A cash prize of $15,000 is awarded to the winner.

2017 Lionel Gelber Prize Media Podcasts

Shadi Hamid on Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World

Rosa Brooks on How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon

Robert F. Worth on A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS

Laura Secor on Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran

Arkady Ostrovsky on The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War

  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director
  4. Managing Director
  5. Managing Director

BOOK REVIEWS

 
 
The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War by Arkady Ostrovsky

 

Arkady Ostrovsky takes readers on a tour of modern Russian politics in his recent book 'The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War, shortlisted for the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize. The book tells the journey of the demise of the Soviet Union highlighting the dreams of Gorbachev and coming full circle to the current harsh realities of Putin's Russia.

The real story of the new Russia was how the Kremlin dealt with the media, using state controlled journalists to tell their public what their new truth was in most cases. Gorbachev may have wanted a ­ reformed nation leaning towards democracy but after years of Communist rule the people may not have been ready for those dreams. At least not when food shortages were a way of life. Gone was the public's safety nets that not even the media could sway. Lifting censorship was a positive view from Western eyes but those lifts created a nation that could now make choices about the future of the country.

Under Boris Yeltsin the media rose to new heights where capitalism was king. They wore the latest styles from the West, were educated at Western schools and acted like the stories of Western Elite from old Soviet horror stories. The more crooked they were the higher they rose up the ranks. The Kremlin used them by making sure that political news was the company line. Bringing a sense of pride back in style the audience was given only half the stories of the day, the ones sanctioned by the State.

And then there came a fighter, Vladimir Putin. He increased the economy for the first time since the Soviet breakdown. While basic quality of life has increased there has been a tightening of the reins of honest journalists in Russia. Those who oppose Putin's point of view are punished. Using the media to tell the people what to believe Putin has grown in popularity. The muzzling of legitimate media in Russia under Putin's rule is just one of the growing concerns that the New Russia is reverting back to the Russia of the past.

Ostrovsky's book The Invention of Russia brings out all the players of modern Russia. Filled with details that aren't common in the West this book adds understanding to how those in power at the Kremlin think, adding a new texture to the political game.

The winner of the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the world’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues, will be announced on February 28 and invited to speak at a free public event at Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on March 29, 2017.
 

 
 
 
The Format of War Has Changed

Review of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon by Rosa Brooks

Until the turn of the 20th century war was waged basically the same as it had always been, with soldiers lining up to battle in uniform patterns. The two world wars brought new technology to the game plan but the actual fighting played out on battle fields. One incident changed everything. As four planes were hijacked flying into targets on US soil the battlefield expanded, changing not only how the military of Earth engaged but also how war has become the lifeblood of policies. Author Rosa Brooks takes readers into the back rooms of the Pentagon exploring war in her recent book 'How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon, shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize.

War, once reserved to battlefields has branched out. Today unmanned drones are more likely to be used than risking human bodies, borders breached that are not actively combat zones and personnel being utilized for peacekeeping type work.

For most of the North American population dealing with military issues isn't considered a daily thing. In the past how war works didn't affect the masses directly. Today, however, that is changing. Brooks explains how the US budget's division of funds is now almost completely dictated by military needs. If there is combat line to the bottom line the sky can be the limit while funding for other areas like education and health care for the general population can take the fight.

The 'war on terror' that began on 9/11 is all out global warfare. Decisions made at the Pentagon don't play by the same rules of past wars. Today enemies of the state are monitored by drones, tracking down targets anywhere in the world.

Brooks knows the ins and outs of the Pentagon from her job as a counsellor for the undersecretary of defence for policy. She sat in top secret meetings, visited places like Gitmo and Afghanistan and saw first hand the rapid changes of war policies of the 21st century. Heavy on details, 'How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything' is filled with short blurbs of a world that is generally off limits to those without clearance.

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything' is a must read to have the knowledge of what is really going on within the United States war machine. Giving readers the background of the hard to understand what war, peace and the rule of law mean in this new era that we are living in.

The winner of the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the world’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues, will be announced on February 28 and invited to speak at a free public event at Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on March 29, 2017.
 

 
 
Secor, Worth and Hamid Bring Understanding of the Middle East to Western Readers With their Current Books

Three of the five Shortlisted books for the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize take on modern issues of the Middle East, each with a different take but one overwhelming message is clear; the Western mindset does not allow for true understanding of Middle Easter politics. The prize, a literary award for the best English non-fiction book on foreign affairs, strives to bring understanding of the political world that we live in. Founded by Canadian diplomat Lionel Gelber in 1989 it is a coveted award that brings lively debate on International issues.

Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World by Shadi Hamid, Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran by Laura Secor and A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS by Robert F. Worth each explain in detail about a world that few in North America understand. These three young authors have immersed themselves within a culture that centuries old, with tribal underscores that make little sense to the average person in Canada or the United States. What they have achieved is a testament of understanding that makes sense of Arab Spring, why these countries have such hatred for Western norms and why there are no easy answers to how to 'fix' the political arenas that are at play.

Hamid's Islamic Exceptionalism explains how the beginning roots of the Muslim religion are as alive today in the Middle East as they were from the start. The laws of Islam are as diverse as the individual regions. The one common thread though is that today's modern world challenges the religious laws creating tension between each state. Hamid gives readers that information that is lacking in the West to understand why the conflicts in the Middle East make absolute sense. His vast knowledge of the Islamic world helps to remove the veil of Western beliefs that block those who are not part of that area of the world's understanding.

Secor's Children of Paradise takes the reader into the lives of Islamic reformers that brought a new life and ideology to the Islamic world during the latter part of the 20th century. These 'children' have reshaped modern Iran. All have suffered, from times in prison where torture was a way of life. These men dream of a new way of life blended with ancient religious devotion. Since 1979 Iran has been at war within itself and those outside its borders. The years of struggle do not appear to be ending in the near future. Iran's struggle is paramount to what has and is taking place in the Modern Middle East. The rich tapestry of background that the author brings forth reveals little known facts of why Iran may always be a warring nation.

Worth takes us to the people who have front row seats of the turmoil and war throughout the Middle East. From best friends torn apart over which Sect they belong to the dreamers who created refuges during the Cairo protest. Worth has lived their lives, reporting on the monstrosities that he observed and was told about from those who lived through the conflicts and the harrowing stories of those whose lives ended. Worth has been able to achieve a trust in a society that is closed to most of the West to reveal the human emotions of the players, victims and lost souls of those in the conflicts, protests and coupe that are changing our world.

Each of these books are an important treasure for readers, bringing an understanding of what led to the Arab Spring and the battles that rage on via ISIS. They each present the reader the challenge of looking at the Arab world from eyes not of the Western world so that an understanding of how the modern Middle East came to be, the internal struggles, the overwhelming corruption and the dreams of those who quest for a land that is pure and Islamic is paramount.

The winner of the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize will be announced on February 28 and invited to speak at a free public event at Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on March 29, 2017.