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Nobel Lectures: Peace, 2001-2005 is the latest in a series of volumes presenting the texts of the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speeches. In addition to the Nobel lectures for the years 2001-2005, the book offers a detailed introduction to each prize, the official announcement of the award, the presentations speeches by the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman, biographies of the laureates, and extensive notes and bibliographies. Edited by Irwin Abrams and Scott London, the book was published by World Scientific under the auspices of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm. It includes a foreword by Geir Lundestad, executive director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.

This volume covers the following five prizes:

A brief excerpt:

The Nobel Peace Prize is presented at a stately ceremony held each year on December 10th, the date its Swedish benefactor Alfred Nobel died in 1896. In recent years, the event has been held in the spacious auditorium of Oslo City Hall, a palatial building that houses not only the city council and the city administration but also some of the most impressive art in Norway, including an exhilarating 85-foot mural by Henrik Sørensen, “The People at Work and Celebrating.”

The auditorium can accommodate eleven hundred people, far more than the aula at the University of Oslo which for many years had been the scene of the event. Old-timers miss the university’s more relaxed and intimate setting, but the sheer size of the ceremony and the increased attention of the international news media now requires a larger venue. There is also the matter of security which has become a concern of mounting importance in recent years — perhaps especially in 2001 when the Norwegian Nobel Institute invited all 39 living peace laureates or representatives of winning organizations to the centenary celebrations of the prize.

The ceremony is simpler than in Stockholm where the King himself presents the awards and strict dress codes and rules of conduct are observed. In Oslo, it has traditionally been the chairman or another member of the Nobel Committee who has presented the diploma and gold medal. Since Norway won its independence from Sweden in 1905, the Norwegian king has usually attended the award ceremonies.

Seated on the podium are the laureates, the five members of the Nobel Committee and its permanent secretary. Invitations are sent to the cultural and political leaders of the country and to members of the diplomatic corps, who typically fill the first rows of the hall. Other guests attend by special invitation of the Nobel Institute. In recent years, the list has included international celebrities and pop stars taking part in the globally-televised Nobel Peace Prize Concert. Between the presentations and the speeches, musical selections are performed by an orchestral ensemble or noted artist, such as Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli who sang Schubert’s “Ave Maria” in 2004, or cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who performed two suites by Bach in 2005.

The award ceremony is scheduled to last ninety-five minutes, a little longer when the prize is shared. Each laureate is given a limit of fifteen to twenty minutes for the acceptance and Nobel lecture, which is often exceeded, but the ceremony is concluded by the early afternoon, in time to return home or to the hotel and watch the telecast of the prize awards in Stockholm.

In the early evening there is usually a torchlight procession honoring the laureate organized by a local group or organization. Hundreds of people, many carrying banners and torches, walk through the streets of Oslo to the Grand Hotel where the laureates usually stay. The procession has become a cherished part of the Nobel festivities, an opportunity for the laureates to greet the people of Oslo and for the public to pay homage, demonstrate their support, and even, on occasion, to protest.

The day’s events conclude with a formal banquet for the laureate or laureates in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel, a glittering black-tie affair attended by the social and political elite of Norway. The event, which is hosted by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, is widely regarded as the high point of Oslo’s winter social season.

For more information or to order a copy, go to Amazon.com.