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An Illustrated Biographical History 1901-2001
Centennial Edition

By Irwin Abrams
Foreword by Kenneth Boulding
Science History Publications, 2001.
350 pages. $35.00. Paperbound.

A legacy of Swedish tycoon Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Peace Prize has been hailed as "the greatest honor a man can receive in this world." Since the first Peace Prize was handed out in 1901, recipients have included Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Schweitzer, Bertha Von Suttner, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and dozens of others whose struggles for a better world have earned them the distinction of Nobel Peace Prize winners.

In 2001, the laureate and award of nearly $1 million were conferred upon the United Nations and its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. On what grounds did they win? Who else was nominated? What other figures throughout history has won the Nobel Peace Prize and with it the title of "Hero of Humanity" Irwin Abrams’s The Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates holds the answers to those and countless other questions about the prize, the selection process, and the men and women it has gone to throughout the years.

Hailed by the American Library Association as one of "the outstanding reference works of 1989" when it was first published, this authoritative survey of the Nobel Peace Prize has been extensively revised and updated to include all the recent prizes as well as an assessment of the contribution and legacy of the award 100 years after its inception. Chronologically arranged, the book details the evolution of the prize, delves into the role and mechanics of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and profiles a century of laureates. Infinitely useful as a reference tool, the book includes surveys, tables, and both general and specific bibliographies.


A leading authority on the Nobel Peace Prize, Irwin Abrams dispels the myths that have surrounded the award over the years – such as the popular misconception that Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and later a wealthy munitions-maker, established the prize to assuage his guilt. In fact, the money Nobel made from dynamite came mostly from peacetime use in mining and in the building of great canals and tunnels. A sincere interest in the pacifist movement, not guilt, was what motivated the father of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Certainly the Peace Prize has been controversial at times. In 1973, for example, the prize was awarded jointly to Henry Kissinger, then the U.S. secretary of state, and Le Duc Tho, of North Vietnam, for their attempts at negotiating an end to the Vietnam War. When the U.S. ambassador showed up to accept Kissinger’s prize, furious Norwegians pelted him with snowballs.

The Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates will serve as an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to find a concise account of each laureate, the historical context of the prize and its winners, and recommendations for further reading. Abrams’s exhaustive work is the culmination of a lifelong fascination with the prize, personal meetings with many winners over the last half-century, interviews with members and advisors of the Nobel Committee, and extensive research into their archives.

While the Nobel Peace Prize may have been controversial at times, in its finest moments, Abrams notes, "the peace award has turned the attention of the world to those whose distinghuished services to peace and human rights and humanitarian causes may at least temper our cynicism with hope."

"A centennial edition of this wonderful reference work is most appropriate. It provides a biography with bibliographic references (and a photograph) for each individual winner of the Nobel Peace Prize from its inception in 1901 through the 2001 award. A sketch with references is also given of those institutions that have won. A number of interesting charts list winners in several categories -- gender, nationality, etc. Front matter includes explanations of the award, the committee that administers it, and insights into the man behind the award -- Alfred Nobel. The introductory material and all the biographic entries are concise, well-written, meet high academic standards, and are enjoyable as well. All collections." -- Choice

"An indispensable reference to the Nobel Peace Prize and its laureates." – Charles Chatfield, Professor of History, Wittenberg University

"Irwin Abrams is the leading authority worldwide on the history of the Nobel Peace Prize. This book shows why!" -- Geir Lundestad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute

"A thoroughly researched and eminently readable history ? combining thoughtful assessments with vigor and color." – Merle Curti, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Irwin Abrams has succeeded in bringing the process of selecting Nobel Peace Prize winners into absolutely accurate historical focus. Moreover, he has done this with grace and honesty. This book ought to become the standard account for anyone – neophyte and specialist – interested in issues of peace in the 20th century." – Sandi E. Cooper, Professor of History, City University of New York

"This book will stand out for a long time as the standard reference work on the history and the laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize." – Werner Simon, archivist, Library of the United Nations, Geneva


Preface to the Centennial Edition

1962: Linus Pauling [PDF]


Book Flyer [PDF]