Steven A. Cook’s The Struggle for Egypt, a chronicle of modern Egypt that culminates in the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, has been awarded the gold medal in The Washington Institute’s 2012 Book Prize competition. Cook, the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, will receive a $30,000 prize for his achievement, one of the most lucrative awards for nonfiction writing in the world.
The Washington Institute Book Prize is given annually to three outstanding new books that have illuminated the Middle East for American readers. Through this competition, The Washington Institute seeks to acknowledge the very best new works on the region and to encourage authors and publishers to produce books of unique quality and insight. The Book Prize, now in its fifth year, has been generously supported since its inception by Washington Institute Trustees Shelly and Michael Kassen.
The winners are selected by an independent panel of foreign policy specialists from academia and journalism. The 2012 jurors included Dr. Michele Dunne, director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council; Dr. Robert J. Lieber, professor of government and International Affairs at Georgetown University; and David E. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times.
Gold Prize ($30,000)
The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square
By Steven A. Cook
(Oxford University Press)
Steven Cook’s The Struggle for Egypt tells the backstory behind the gripping images from Tahrir Square, and it isn’t as straightforward as an elderly dictator being swept aside by young champions of freedom. Steven Cook’s timely and highly readable book weaves expertly through Egypt’s modern history, from British failures through Nasser’s pretensions to Sadat’s peacemaking. Cook offers a sobering reminder of how economic stagnation, bad governance, and religious extremism make for an unpredictable brew—and why the struggle for Egypt’s future is destined to continue.
Silver Prize ($15,000)
The Anatomy of Israel's Survival
By Hirsh Goodman
Hirsh Goodman’s The Anatomy of Israel’s Survival is an insightful, personal and impassioned analysis of Israel’s tenacious existence in a troubled Middle East. Israel faces a myriad of internal and external threats, and Goodman brings the clarity and wisdom of a veteran observer of the heated Israeli debate over which threats matter, and how best to meet them. One may agree or disagree with his prescription (first, make peace with the Palestinians), and still profit immensely from his engaging analysis of why, against all odds, Israel survives and thrives.
Bronze Prize ($5,000)
Patriot of Persia
By Christopher de Bellaigue
Christopher de Bellaigue, in his elegant Patriot of Persia, reconstructs the complex dynamics behind the American- and British-devised coup against Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953—an intervention remembered to this day, often bitterly, by all Iranians. Muhammad Mossadegh did cozy up to the Soviets, but he was above all a nationalist, and his decision to seize his country’s oil industry doomed him. De Bellaigue’s encounter with the ghosts haunting American-Iranian relations is a crucial backdrop to understanding Iran’s distrust of the United States—a major impediment to resolving today’s nuclear conundrum.