Books by Helena Cobban:

* Amnesty after Atrocity?: Healing Nations after Genocide and War Crimes, (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2007)

Here's the publisher's info page on the book.

*  The Moral Architecture of World Peace: Nobel Laureates Discuss our Global Future, (Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 2000)

For a link to publisher's page on the book, and ordering information, click here.  For more information on the book, click here.

*  The Israeli-Syrian Peace Talks: 1991-96 and Beyond (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2000)

For a link to publisher's page on the book, and ordering information, click here.  For more information on the book, click here.   

*  The Superpowers and the Syrian-Israeli Conflict, (New York: Praeger, 1991)

Another out-of-print title.  What's with these quasi-commercial publishers??  Anyway, the research was really interesting to do-- even if the book did come out just at the time that talk of any conflict between "two superpowers" suddenly all became Overtaken By Events.

*  The Making of Modern Lebanon (London: Hutchinsons, and Boulder, Co.: Westview, 1985)

This book has been out-of-print for a while now, but it's still one I'm fond of.

*  The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power and Politics  (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1984)

Kudos to Cambridge for keeping this text still in print, after nearly 20 years!  For a link to publisher's page on the book, and ordering info, click here. For more information on the book, click here.   

Go to:    top of page   PLO book info   Israel-Syria talks book    Nobel Laureates book   HC home-page

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (1984)


(from the Cambridge U.P. catalogue)

This is the first comprehensive political analysis of the PLO to appear in English since the early 1970s. A correspondent in Beirut from 1976 to 1981, Helena Cobban has been able to study developments at close quarters and use documentary sources and first-hand recollections which have never been included in previous Western analyses of the movement. The book maintains that one key to understanding the development of the PLO is an examination of the development of its predominant member-group, Al-Fateh. The first part focuses on the history of Fateh, sowing how its interests and the PLO’s became intertwined. The latter part discusses the interrelations between the Fateh leadership and various factors which affect and are affected by its performance, such as the internal Palestinian opposition, the Arab milieu, and the resistance movement inside the Israeli-occupied areas. The final chapter draws together all the strands to arrive at the precise sources of the Fateh leadership’s relative stability over the past quarter-century, as well as to assess its effectiveness in key areas of its operations.

Chapter Contents

List of illustrations;
Introduction; Part I. History of the PLO Mainstream: Part II. Internal Relations: Part III. External Relations: Conclusions; Appendixes;
References and select bibliography;

For info on ordering the PLO book from the publisher, click here.

Go to:    top of page  PLO book info    Israel-Syria talks book    Nobel Laureates book  HC home-page

The Israeli-Syrian Peace Talks: 1991–96 and Beyond (publ. May, 2000)


“Includes a wealth of detail, unavailable in any other single source, which gives readers a greater understanding of the negotiation efforts. . . . A must-read for anyone with interest in the Middle East or the dynamics of peace negotiations in general.”—Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St. Andrews

“The definitive account of the Israeli-Syrian negotiations in the Rabin-Peres era. Israelis and Syrians need to ponder this excellent book to understand why the chance of peace was missed.”—Patrick Seale


From the opening of the Middle East peace process in Madrid in 1991 to the marathon round of negotiations at Maryland’s Wye Plantation in 1996, the unsuccessful attempt to forge a peace agreement between Israel and Syria spanned five years and many venues.

Helena Cobban here provides a fascinating look at the painstaking negotiations between the two Middle East powers that thrice went to war in the past half-century, and the role that the United States played in trying to bring Israel and Syria closer together on crucial points.

Through interviews with U.S. officials and key players in the Israeli and Syrian delegations, Cobban paints a portrait of small but important breakthroughs—and often frustrating encounters—between the Israelis and the Syrians as they sought to negotiate not just a bilateral peace treaty, but also a broader regional peace. The study concludes with a careful analysis of what went wrong in the final phases of the negotiations and future prospects for resuming the talks.


For info on ordering the Israel-Syria talks book from the publisher, click here.

Go to:    top of page  PLO book info   Israel-Syria talks book    Nobel Laureates book  HC home-page

The Moral Architecture of World Peace: Nobel Laureates Discuss Our Global Future (2000)


(from the publisher's catalogue)

In November 1998, eight visionary recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize gathered on the grounds of the University of Virginia for two days of extraordinary dialogue. From the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's riveting description of chairing South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, their conversation ranged from familiar international-relations issues to areas traditionally excluded from such discourse, like the need for personal transformation and community organizing.

From the laureates' speeches and exchanges, the veteran journalist Helena Cobban has drawn a powerful, prescient vision of our shared global future. Unlike other recent books on global change, The Moral Architecture of World Peace is based on the heroic stories of nine individuals, from as varied backgrounds as Rigoberta Menchú Tum and Jody Williams, who base their view of world peace on personal strength and public activism, not economic trends.

Each chapter contains one laureate's version of a shared message: that peace is grounded in the personal and spiritual as well as the economic and military dimensions of global interconnectedness. When the Dalai Lama speaks of the need for inner as well as external disarmament, he is asking for a greater commitment than the most complicated nuclear arms treaty. Along similar lines, the Northern Ireland peace activist Betty Williams tells of her hope to disarm "the landmines of the heart," the bitterness that lives on in war survivors that can be more destructive than physical scars. Jody Williams and Bobby Muller, 1997 laureates, sound a concordant note in the story of their successful campaign to win an international treaty banning landmines.

Former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sánchez, architect of the five-nation peace accord in Central America, challenges citizens of rich western countries to recognize the gap between their luxury spending and the amounts needed to fund basic human services in other parts of the world. Indigenous-rights activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum and East Timorese representative José Ramos-Horta both lament the human and social costs paid by what Ramos-Horta calls, sorrowfully, the world's "expendable peoples." Harn Yawnghwe, speaking on behalf of the Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was refused the right to travel by her government, talks of the tough issues of preparing for a transition to postauthoritarian rule in a country that has been run by a military junta.

As Helena Cobban articulates, these leaders all seem to subscribe to a broader set of truths that are not necessarily self-evident: that human beings can easily become locked into self-perpetuating "systems of suspicion and violence" at any level, from the interpersonal through the international; that when one is inside such a system, it can be hard to see it and to recognize one's own role within it; but that each one of us has the capacity to make a leap from self-centeredness toward greater understanding. "Try to change motivation," the Dalai Lama urges.

But while these laureates' stories are primarily of personal and political triumph, they also tell of great sacrifice, conflict, and pain. Bobby Muller's passionate exchange with Archbishop Tutu on moral accountability versus reconciliation, and the self-examination of Ramos-Horta, who reflected that his own East Timorese independence movement may have hurt the chances of United States' intervention to prevent Indonesia's brutal invasion of his country, point toward the new kinds of challenges we face in the next century.

From the candor, eloquence, humor, and differences expressed by these inspiring people, Helena Cobban has sketched out a new international paradigm of peace.

For info on ordering the Nobel Laureates book from the publisher, click here.

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