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Gerson, Allan

Gerson, Allan

PERSONAL:

Education: New York University, J.D.; Yale University, J.S.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Gerson International Law Group, 2131 S St. N.W., Washington, DC 20008. Agent—Harry Walker Agency, Inc., 355 Lexington Ave., 21st Fl., New York, NY 10017.

CAREER:

Gerson International Law Group, Washington, DC, chairman. Lecturer and professor of international law at various institutions, including George Washington University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Formerly trial attorney of Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Justice Department; counsel to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and General Vernon Walters; Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legal Counsel and Counselor for International Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice. Senior Fellow for International Law and Organizations at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Distinguished Professor of International Law and Transactions at George Mason University.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Israel, the West Bank and International Law, F. Cass (Totowa, NJ), 1978.

(Editor) Lawyers' Ethics: Contemporary Dilemmas, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1980.

The Kirkpatrick Mission: Diplomacy without Apology: America at the United Nations, 1981-1985, Free Press (New York, NY), 1991.

(With Jerry Adler) The Price of Terror: One Bomb, One Plane, 270 Lives: The History-Making Struggle for Justice after Pan Am 103, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Nat J. Colletta) Privatizing Peace: From Conflict to Security, Transnational Publishers (Ardsley, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS:

Allan Gerson is an attorney and professor of international relations who once prosecuted Nazi war collaborators, and later provided legal counsel to many families who lost relatives in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Two hundred and seventy people lost their lives in the explosion that day, in an act of terrorism that stood as the deadliest in history until the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. Gerson was the first to initiate a lawsuit against the Libyan government of Muammar Qadhafi, suspected of being responsible for the bombing. The United States government did little to pursue the case on behalf of the victims' families, and there was little precedent for legal action in such a case. Gerson's quest for justice stretched out over ten years. In the end, he helped to write and ensure passage of amendments to the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which cleared the way for the aggrieved parties to sue Libya for damages. Gerson and his coauthor, Jerry Adler, give a detailed account of the bombing, the stories of the bereaved, and an account of the legal actions taken in their book The Price of Terror: One Bomb, One Plane, 270 Lives: The History-Making Struggle for Justice after Pan Am 103. Gerson was praised by Richard Bernstein in the New York Times for "informatively and absorbingly" telling the story, and he further noted that the experiences of the victims' families and their legal representatives "is a map of the workings of the American system, especially the legal system: the indignities it produces; its incredible slowness and expense; the nature of its functioning, which sometimes defies common sense; and the partial satisfaction that it can occasionally generate."

In an earlier book, Gerson chronicled the career of Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former United States representative to the United Nations, for whom Gerson acted as legal counsel. Kirkpatrick was a key figure in the first years of the Reagan era, and Gerson's book illuminates her legacy, her political philosophy, and her personal character. She was outspoken and controversial, speaking up for U.S. interests through a variety of international incidents, including the invasion of Lebanon by Israel and the deployment of U.S. forces in Grenada. The Kirkpatrick Mission: Diplomacy without Apology: America at the United Nations, 1981-1985 is worthwhile not only for what it offers to those interested in Kirkpatrick herself, but "also because it offers real reflection on the constraints on American foreign policy and, for that matter, the foreign policies of all states," stated Christopher M. Gacek in the National Review. "Mr. Gerson offers an exciting and rare account of the manner in which international law affects the conduct of foreign policy: that is, how precedents cited to justify actions in one case often return to haunt the nation that adduced them." Gacek concluded: "This book takes the UN seriously. It forces us to think about how the UN and international law will influence our lives in a world in which the cold war and the dominance of national-security concerns are no longer the most prominent features of the relations between states." Genevieve Stuttaford, reviewing the book for Publishers Weekly, called it "an important contribution to the literature of modern diplomacy."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Lawyer, January, 2002, review of The Price of Terror: One Bomb, One Plane, 270 Lives, The History-Making Struggle for Justice after Pan Am 103, p. 64.

Florida Bar Journal, April, 2002, review of The Price of Terror, p. 51.

National Review, December 2, 1991, Christopher M. Gacek, review of The Kirkpatrick Mission: Diplomacy without Apology: America at the United Nations, 1981-1985, p. 46.

New York Times, November 28, 2001, Richard Bernstein, review of The Price of Terror, p. E8.

New York Times Book Review, December 23, 2001, review of The Price of Terror, p. 9.

Orbis, winter, 1996, Eugene V. Rostow, review of The Kirkpatrick Mission, p. 145.

Publishers Weekly, April 12, 1991, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Kirkpatrick Mission, p. 51; November 5, 2001, review of The Price of Terror, p. 61.

ONLINE

Gerson International Web site,http://www.gersoninternational.com (March 30, 2007), biographical information on Allan Gerson.

Harry Walker Agency Web site,http://www.harrywalker.com/ (March 30, 2007), biographical information about Allan Gerson.

OTHER

CNN.comwww.cnn.com/ (November 14, 2001, transcript of interview with Allan Gerson.

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