We are delighted to announce this year’s winners:

Joint winners

Joesph Sassoon
Saddam Hussein’s Ba’th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime

Our reviewer comments ‘Joseph Sassoon has written what is undoubtedly the most important book on the Iraqi state and Iraqi politics since Hanna Batatu’s 1978 The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq. Not coincidentally, it is the first work since Batatu that is based on modern Iraqi archival material – in this case internal Ba’th records. Sassoon’s style and objective analysis of these previously inaccessible sources makes his contribution a truly valuable one that has inestimably enhanced our understanding of the workings of the Ba’th Party and the mechanisms of authoritarianism in Ba’thi Iraq.’

‘In Saddam Hussein’s Ba’th Party, we finally have an informed and balanced analysis of how Iraq was governed over the decades and how authority, decision making, state-society relations and repression functioned.’

The reviewer continues:

‘In sum, Sassoon’s ground-breaking research has shed light on so much that had previously been obscured by censorship and security concerns. In the process, his book has changed and clarified our understanding of the Ba’th era and set a new benchmark for future scholarship on Iraq and for that he is to be commended.’

Mohammad Qasim Zaman
Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age

‘This is an extremely interesting and well-written book, offering valuable insights on vital areas of modern Islamic thought. Its strength comes from its highlighting the often neglected, but very dynamic, interaction between the two main centres of Islamic learning (the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East), and also from the way debates which flared up at the beginning of the twentieth century still remain relevant today. It focuses on ‘internal criticisms’ within the traditional body of Islamic scholarship in the centres of learning in the two regions, with a particular focus on the Deoband School and al-Azhar.’

The reviewer continues:

‘One of the core issues is the status of Islamic education and its traditional institutions in the face of the challenges of modernity. Not only was the crisis of these institutions a central factor in the inability of Muslim societies to catch up with advanced economies, but it is also responsible for divisions within society and crises of identity. The book examines in detail some of the heart-felt pleas for reform in these institutions, and the problems and dilemmas they posed.’

The reviewer concludes:

‘This book represents a tour de force in modern Islamic intellectual history: meticulously researched, well-written, packed with insights. I have seen few books of its calibre in recent times, and have no hesitation in recommending it for the prize.’

Honourable Mention

Denis McAuley
Ibn ‘Arabi’s Mystical Poetics

Travis Zadey
The Vernacular Qur’an: Translation and the Rise of Persian Exegesis

Ali Ansari
The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran

To read Professor Suleiman's speech and for assessors' comments for these books which were published in 2012, please click on 'Prize winners 2012'.

Past Winners