Skip to main content
Brookings Now

Brookings expert’s book on ‘Islamic Exceptionalism’ shortlisted for Lionel Gelber Prize, awarded to best book on foreign affairs

The 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize for best book in English on foreign affairs shortlist has been announced, and includes Senior Fellow Shadi Hamid’s recent title, “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World” (St. Martin’s Press).

"Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World" (St. Martin's Press, 2016) by Shadi HamidHamid, who researched the book for ten years, during which he spent more than six years living, traveling, and studying in the Middle East, writes that it “is the story of a region’s descent into madness” following the Arab Spring. He continues that:

There is a temptation to see it as inexplicable, to look for the other way as Arabs and Muslims fight and kill each other. Some of it, though, can be explained. Or at least we have to try. The impulse to understand what might appear beyond comprehension is a vital one, especially now.

“This book,” he writes,” is an attempt to make sense not just of sad, terrifying events but of the power of ideas and their role in the existential battles that have shaken the foundations of the Middle Eastern order.”

The Gelber Prize jury noted that in “Islamic Exceptionalism” Hamid “has dared to go where few scholars have ventured, as he courageously examines the political nature and history of Islam.”

The winner will be announced at the end of February.

To learn more, see also:

Rethinking Political Islam, by Shadi Hamid and William McCants

From burkinis to the Quran: Why Islam isn’t like other faiths, by Shadi Hamid

Is Islam “exceptional”?, by Shadi Hamid

Hamid appeared on Facebook live in 2016 to discuss his book. Watch:

Get daily updates from Brookings