Prize Winners 2017


We are delighted to list below the prize winners for 2017, together with some quotes from our reviewers:

In 2017 there were two joint winning titles:

Ilker Evrim Binbaş
Intellectual networks in Timurid Iran. Sharaf al-Din ‘Ali Yazdi and the Islamic Republic of letters
(Cambridge University Press)
and
Joas Wagemakers
Salafism in Jordan: Political Islam in a Quietist Community by
(Cambridge University Press)

The runner-up title was:
Lisa Cooper
In Search of Kings and Conquerors: Gertrude Bell and the Archaeology of the Middle East
(IB Tauris)

COMMENTS ON THE WINNING TITLES

Ilker Evrim Binbaş
Intellectual networks in Timurid Iran. Sharaf al-Din ‘Ali Yazdi and the Islamic Republic of letters
(Cambridge University Press)


Our reviewer and the judges were impressed by the originality of this work.  The reviewer states:

‘This is a highly original work that makes a massive contribution to understanding the political and religious dynamics of the early Timurid period. It is based on an impressive array of sources in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, many still in manuscript and relatively unknown; their contents are often arcane and difficult to understand, but the author has read widely and closely and has an eye for telling details.’

The reviewer continues:

‘Evrim Binbaş has produced a heavyweight and sophisticated work of scholarship on intellectual history, pursuing the arcane details of riddling, the theoretical debates of the time between philosophers, Sufis and the ‘people of discernment and verification’ of the science of letters, and the role of historical literature in providing more than a mere record of facts. Despite the complexity of the arguments and the often abstract nature of the material with which he works, the author is able to explain the development of his views clearly and guide the reader along the path of his ideas.

And then the reviewer concludes:

‘Altogether, it is an admirable book of the highest quality, and establishes the author as a major voice in the history of the intellectual circles of the 15th-century Islamic world. ‘

Joas Wagemakers
Salafism in Jordan: Political Islam in a Quietist Community by
(Cambridge University Press)


Our reviewer was impressed by both the depth and quality of the research:

‘Salafism in Jordan is a well-researched and detailed survey of the Salafi phenomenon in one of the Middle East’s less studied countries, Jordan. Wagemakers writes from an Islamic Studies perspective and conveys a deep understanding of, and respect for, the Salafi intellectual milieu.’

‘The focus on one country and period makes for a refreshing and original contribution that stands in contrast to the often broad-brush treatments of Salafism as a transnational and transhistorical phenomenon.’

The reviewer continues:

‘There are few book-length studies of Salafism in English and Wagemakers’ stands in a class of its own in terms of detail and depth of research.’

Lisa Cooper
In Search of Kings and Conquerors: Gertrude Bell and the Archaeology of the Middle East
(IB Tauris)


Our reviewer thought that this book was a true ‘tour de force’, being impressed with Cooper

‘Making lavish use of unpublished notebooks and letters, she recreates the quotidian reality of the successive journeys that Bell made to increasingly remote areas of Anatolia, Syria and Iraq. She conjures a living Gertrude Bell in these pages’

The reviewer continues:

‘Again and again, Cooper demonstrates that combination of perspiration and inspiration that gave Bell an edge over her British compatriots and enabled her to challenge a posse of phenomenally gifted German scholars in her field. The book is beautifully illustrated by a rich selection of the wonderfully crisp and atmospheric photographs in the Bell archive at Newcastle University.’


The reviewer concludes:

‘Lisa Cooper, then, has chosen a grand theme for her book and her writing takes wing in response. It is safe to say that she has truly rehabilitated a great scholar in this book, and that she has highlighted in fascinating, superbly documented detail the unjustly neglected prelude to Gertrude Bell’s later career as uncrowned queen of Iraq. This book fully deserves some kind of recognition for that feat.’


COMMENTS ON BOOKS RECEIVING AN HONORARY MENTION

Lihi Beh Shitritt
Righteous Transgressions: Women's Activism on the Israeli and Palestinian Religious Right
(Princeton University Press)

‘a well-written and carefully crafted book. It is light on jargon, accessible, and nuanced. It successfully balanced the competing demands of building an argument with offering sufficient evidential detail to support the claims. It also balanced effectively the competing aims of outlining methodology with offering detail on the findings. Importantly though, this book will engage those who are not initially interested in gender or women’s issues, in order to better understand the ‘local’ dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’

Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog
Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education (Princeton University Press)


‘... a fine-grained, compelling corroboration of the received wisdom that there is indeed a strong correlation between engineering education and a tendency to veer towards violent extremism under certain socioeconomic conditions.’

Konrad Hirschler
Medieval Damascus: Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic Library - The Ashrafiya Library Catalogue
(Edinburgh University Press)


‘Hirschler has combined first-class academic rigour and scholarship with an innovative methodological approach to provide a glimpse onto life in medieval Damascus that would not has been possible in any other way. It is a towering achievement.’

Book Prize Speech - 2017 Yasir.docx