Laura Shannon Prize Winner

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Publisher: Harvard University Press

Publication Year: 2021

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Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union

by Stella Ghervas

2023 Award in History and Social Sciences

Jury Statement

“‘Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union’ is a highly original, analytically penetrating, magisterial narrative that integrates political, diplomatic, military, legal, and intellectual history covering the entire European continent over more than three centuries. Stella Ghervas’s subject matter — post-war peacemaking and international efforts to sustain peace — could hardly be timelier or more important. With a mastery of discrete bodies of scholarship that range from the seventeenth-century Peace of Westphalia to today’s European Union and its discontents, she compares the diverse ways in which European diplomats and politicians navigated the peace processes that concluded the War of the Spanish Succession, the Napoleonic Wars, World Wars I and II and the Cold War. Ghervas reconstructs a dialectical tradition and tension between proponents of a realist-minded balance of powers and protagonists who sought to fashion an ethos conducive to ‘perpetual (enduring) peace.’ From before the Treaty of Utrecht to the end of the Soviet Union and beyond, the polished whole of the book much exceeds the sum of its meticulously researched and beautifully written parts. 

Beyond its virtuosic achievement as a work of history, ‘Conquering Peace’ is conspicuous for its present-day relevance and practical applicability. The better we understand the past, the better equipped we are to address the present as we look toward the future. Without ever letting distorting presentisms compromise her scholarly integrity or sophistication, Ghervas is alert to current tensions, challenges and antagonisms among European states and beyond them. One can only hope that all professional diplomats, as well as politicians engaged in international affairs, will read and learn from this wise book. 

Impressively learned and consistently incisive, as brilliantly conceived as it is superbly executed, ‘Conquering Peace’ is a stunning accomplishment that is destined to become a classic in modern European diplomatic history, political history, international relations and peace studies. It is eminently worthy of the Nanovic Institute’s Laura Shannon Prize for 2023.” 

Final Jury

Laura Lee Downs
Professor of History
European University Institute

Brad S. Gregory
Henkels Family College Professor of History
University of Notre Dame

Katy Hayward
Professor of Political Sociology
Queen’s University, Belfast

Eileen M. Hunt
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Helmut Walser Smith
Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of History
Vanderbilt University