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Introducing the 2014 Gelber Finalists

Every year, Foreign Policy partners with the Lionel Gelber Foundation and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto to award the Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award handed out to the year's best book on international affairs.

Patricia Rubin -- the president of the Lionel Gelber Prize Board and the niece of Lionel Gelber, the Canadian diplomat who created the award -- announced the prize finalists on Monday, and they are an impressively diverse collection of books: an account of FDR's struggle to convince a reluctant nation to join World War II; a revealing look at the many unexpected, terrifying ways nuclear weapons can malfunction; the astonishing story of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger's role in a forgotten genocide; a riveting history of nearly six centuries of geopolitical intrigue in the battle to control the heart of Europe; and the inside story of the dramatic creation of the modern financial system. 

"Four of the five books on the Lionel Gelber Prize shortlist reveal telling aspects of American governance in pressing circumstances. We see how personalities in the White House play over-sized roles in the conduct of foreign policy, at times to tragic effect. In the fifth book, we see how inexorably the central dilemmas of Europe arrive on American shores without pity for American desires," jury chair William Thursell said in a statement. "There is an epic quality to this coincidence of subjects that can be read as one."

Here is the full list of finalists:

The winner will be announced on March 31. In the run-up to the announcement, FP will be featuring interviews with the authors conducted by Robert Steiner, who directs the fellowship program in global journalism at the Munk School.

Stay tuned.  

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Russian Television Doctored Footage of the Sochi Opening Ceremony

Technical problems? In the Olympics, there is no such thing.

During Friday's opening ceremony for the Sochi Olympics, a set of giant snowflakes descended from the sky and morphed into the Olympic rings. It was a neat trick, except for one problem: The fifth snowflake malfunctioned and failed to transform into a ring.

The episode provided the first spectacular misstep for the Sochi Olympics and this memorable image, which -- if the games proceed as badly as many journalists in attendance seem to expect (or secretly want them to) -- will probably serve as an enduring metaphor:

But if you were watching the opening ceremony on Russian television, you didn't get to witness the catastrophe. The broadcaster cut to rehearsal footage:

Organizers confirmed to the Associated Press that they had cut to prepared footage, which, it turns out, isn't such an uncommon phenomenon at the Olympics. In 2008, the Beijing opening ceremony included some prerecorded footage, and during the 2006 Turin Games, famed singer Luciano Pavarotti lip-synced his aria. Organizers claimed the cold made a live show impossible.

But the fake footage is sure to feed the chorus of criticism that has already been directed at the Sochi Olympics. As I wrote earlier this week, the unfinished accommodations and ongoing construction projects feed into a long-standing Western image of Russia as a country filled with Potemkin villages. Friday's television fake-out will only further feed the notion that Sochi is one big vanity display.

NBC will broadcast the opening ceremony in prime time Friday. "We will show things as they happened tonight," the network said in a statement to the AP.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images