2019 Balzan Prize for Islamic Studies
Bio-bibliography + Videoclip
Michael Cook (FBA), born in 1940 in Nottinghamshire, is a British historian and scholar of Islamic history.
He studied History and Oriental Studies at King’s College, Cambridge and did postgraduate studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London under the supervision of Professor Bernard Lewis. He was lecturer in Economic History with reference to the Middle East at SOAS and then Reader in the History of the Near and Middle East. In 1986 he was appointed Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Since 2007 he has been Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in Spring 1990.
In 2001 he was chosen to be a member of the American Philosophical Society and received the Albert Hourani Book Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received several awards, including the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Mellon Foundation, the Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities at Princeton, the Farabi Award in the Humanities and Islamic Studies and the Holberg Prize in 2014.
Professor Cook is a prolific scholar with 8 and a half authored books, many tens of articles (one of which is book length in terms of the number of pages), and several edited volumes. The subjects he has researched and written on include: pre-Islamic Arabia, Quranic studies, early hadith studies, the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions, Islamic theology, ethics and law, the histories of the Umayyad, Abbasid and later Islamic dynasties, the history of Arabia and Wahhabism, the politics of Hindu, Christian, and Islamic fundamentalism (both medieval and modern), among many other topics. He has expanded his scholarly reach even though he was originally trained as an economic historian of the Ottoman empire and produced a seminal work in this field, too, garnering the praise and citation of the famous historian Fernand Braudel.