America's master of high-stakes crisis diplomacy was the bellowing, exuberant Philip Habib. His 1981-83 mission as Ronald Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East remains America's most important Middle East diplomatic effort since 1979. The results were a mix of dramatic success and humiliating failure.
For a generation, the inside story of Habib's mission was classified. Cursed Is the Peacemaker reveals what really happened behind closed doors. Based on newly declassified records and extensive interviews with participants, the book focuses on how Habib negotiated an end to Israel's 1982 siege of Beirut.
The siege's architect was Israel's then-defense minister Ariel Sharon. While Sharon raced to conclude the siege violently, Habib raced to conclude it peacefully. Thwarted at every turn and risking his life to fight impossible odds, Habib pulled off what George Shultz calls a miracle.
This is a story of conflict between allies: between the US and Israel during some of the darkest days of their relations, and between Habib and Sharon. The story of their rivalry provides rare insight into the world of high-stakes crisis diplomacy and US-Israel relations at a turning point in Middle East history.
by John Boykin, foreword by George Shultz
American Academy of Diplomacy book award
Video of AAD acceptance speech (6 min., 22 sec.)
Applegate Press, 2002
Arabic translation published by Dar An Nahar, Beirut, 2002