Thursday, March 3, 2005

Washington Post Associate Editor Steve Coll has won the 2004 Lionel Gelber Prize for his book "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001" (Penguin Press) . The $15,000 prize is awarded for the best foreign-policy book published that year.

Coll's work documented how U.S. policies and covert actions during the Cold War contributed to the rise of al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the post-Soviet era.

Coll, 46, was managing editor of The Post from 1998 through 2004. He stepped down to pursue book projects and to write and edit for the paper.

Coll won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990. He covered Afghanistan as The Post's South Asia bureau chief from 1989 to 1992. His other books include "On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey Into South Asia" and "The Taking of Getty Oil."

The Gelber prize is awarded by the Lionel Gelber Foundation, in partnership with the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto and Foreign Policy magazine. Coll's selection was announced yesterday in Toronto by Patricia S. Rubin, chair of the Gelber Prize Board.

Coll will accept the prize March 30, in Toronto. Foreign Policy magazine will hold an event in Washington the next week.

Jury chair George Russell said Coll's book "lays bare the complex bureaucratic, political, and human calculations and disputes that led Washington from a proxy triumph over the Soviet Union to the calamity of the World Trade Center."

Other finalists were Michael Ignatieff, "The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror" (Princeton University Press); Dennis Ross, "The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Olivier Roy, "Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah" (Columbia University Press); and Anne-Marie Slaughter, "A New World Order" (Princeton University Press).

Post Associate Editor Steve Coll won the 2004 Lionel Gelber Prize.

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