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Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World Hardcover – March 27, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review


“This delightful book entertained me and enriched my knowledge. How many books do that? If you pick it up, I defy you to put it down until you’ve finished it.”

Lou Cannon, historian and journalist

“In an absorbingly well-researched, well-written and thoughtful history of the Peace Prize . . . Nordlinger looks with a critical but not jaundiced eye at the laureates. . . . In the course of his deliberations he has thought deeply about what genuinely constitutes peace.”

Andrew Roberts, historian

“A masterly book, which dissects its notoriously controversial subject with precision, elegance, and wit. A splendid job!”

Solomon Volkov, Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe

“. . . like a history of the modern world, told through the prism of the prize, full of characters both familiar and unfamiliar, and well written in the style we’ve come to expect.”

John J. Miller, author, director of journalism at Hillsdale College

About the Author

Jay Nordlinger is a senior editor of National Review. He writes about a variety of subjects, including politics, foreign affairs, and the arts. He is music critic for The New Criterion and City Arts (New York), as well as for NR. He has won awards for his work on human rights, in particular. Some 100 pieces are gathered in Here, There & Everywhere: Collected Writings of Jay Nordlinger. A native Michigander, the author lives in New York.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594035989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594035982
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
Great sense of humor and irony.
B. P. Burr
The irony of awarding Yassar Arafat as well as Mother Teresa shows the wide variation in philosophy as well as the changing political climate.
Don L. McCord M.D.
I like how he interspersed the "parade of laureates" with sections with broader subjects.
John B. Farmer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By LesLein on May 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As far back as 1964 William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote "Any redblooded Westerner should think twice before accepting a Nobel award, precisely because to do so is to lend the recipient's prestige not merely to the idiosyncratic criteria the Committee uses, but to its political relativism." While I admire Jay Nordlinger's work at the magazine Buckley founded, I was concerned that this work would be an extended opinion peace on the Nobel committee's biases.

Fortunately, this isn't the case. Nordlinger is thorough and fair. He provides his own conclusions, but only after summarizing both sides of any controversy. Sometimes he is surprising. For example, Nordlinger doesn't fault the Nobel committee for honoring Yassir Arafat. He understands its motivation to encourage negotiations in the Middle East. In fact Nordlinger notes that the prize is often awarded to works in progress that don't pan out. Occasionally this works out, such as the South African awards.

Another key point is that the Nobel committee often violates Alfred Nobel's will. It is supposed to go to the person who did the most for peace in the preceding year. Instead it is frequently a "lifetime achievement award." One change Nordlinger recommends is to focus less on celebrities. An additional criticism is that the award isn't always directly related to peace between nations. Sometimes the awards are for humantarian or human rights work. These efforts can be very worthwhile, but aren't directly related to peace. A frequent topic is the meaning of "peace." Mr. Nordlinger believes that Nobel believed in deterrence, not pacifism.

Nordlinger provides a brief biography of Alfred Nobel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Don L. McCord M.D. on February 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An outstanding in-depth analysis of history and the setting for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. It gives a history of Alfred Nobel's life and incentive for establishing the prize. The narrative of the series of awards is detailed. The reactions and acceptance speeches of the recipients are interesting and the variations in the reasons for the awards illustrate the pacifist leanings of the board members. The irony of awarding Yassar Arafat as well as Mother Teresa shows the wide variation in philosophy as well as the changing political climate.
Nordlinger's style is very readable and thought provoking. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John B. Farmer on June 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very well done. Concise. Engaging writing style. Conservative but liberals would find it fair. Fascinating facts. I like how he interspersed the "parade of laureates" with sections with broader subjects. I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian on November 30, 2012
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The Nobel Prize! How it has captured our imaginations over the century of its existence and how little I have understood it and the motivations behind it. Nordlinger's book entertains, informs and challenges our thinking and understanding of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. Nordlinger's biographical sketches of the early winners are fascinating overview of the early 20th and late 19th century. His more contemporary portraits often do a great job of capturing the times and controversies surrounding these awards. As we find American Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush would never win a peace prize but surely should have the biggest stack of thank you letters from the people who did win. Nearly every single winner in the 21st century owes George Bush a thank you note at the very least.

Mr. Nordlinger's "parade of laureates", his term for his biographical sketches of the winners, could prove tedious in another author's hands but Mr. Nordlinger's wit, good humor and loving attention to his subject carries the day and drives the book along. It left me wishing that he had spent even more time on each laureate instead of less.

By reading this book you will not only have a better understanding of the Prize and how it is given and how it is handled you will have a better idea of the social views, ideas and fads that held sway with Western political elites through the 20th and early 21st centuries. This is book you will come to cherish having in your possession.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. P. Burr on July 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed reading this book. Jay Nordlinger writes in a style that is economical and easy.
I always read his stuff in NR and NRO. Great sense of humor and irony. I particularly have
enjoyed the excerpts of the recipient lectures as well as the recipient introductions.
Although the Nobel committee has embarrassed themselves over the years, who hasn't!
Word to the wise: If you don't think that Ronald Reagan should not have at least been considered
for the Peace Prize, then you probably won't enjoy this book.
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I'm making notes while reading this very entertaining book of all the interesting people I now would like to read more about!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Nordlinger wrote a dandy and steady-paced history of the Nobel Prize, how each award was influenced by current events, and how the people of the era reacted. He does not criticize or moralize, but lays it out for the reader to draw his or her own concluions. A pleasure!
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