Magazine April 2, 2012, Issue

Peace, They Say

Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World (Encounter)
Some thoughts on a slippery word and concept

What is this thing called love?” goes an old song. In the same spirit, we might ask, “What is this thing called peace?” Everyone wants it, everyone talks about it, everyone lauds it. But what is it, exactly? The Norwegian Nobel Committee must determine what peace is, and who has furthered it — furthered it enough to merit the world’s most prestigious prize.

There is probably no subject on which it is easier to be glib than that of peace. In 2010, The National Interest had a cover bearing a photo of Neville Chamberlain and the word “Appeaser!” The cover then

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