How the recent history of Lebanon provides insight into the many trials currently facing the larger Arab community.
It is crucial to the interests of the West to grasp the complexities of the Arab world. In this clear, concise volume, Sandra Mackey provides a unique view of this tortured and tortuous region through the lens of Lebanon.
A small, fractured country at the gateway of the Arab east, Lebanon signals the challenges that the Arab world poses to itself and to the West. As Mackey vividly demonstrates, the Lebanese have experienced every issue currently roiling the Middle East: borders contrived by others, a weak state housing weak institutions, a Palestinian presence, civil war, resistance to societal and political change, Sunni/Shia sectarianism, occupation, militant Islam as a political ideology, conflict over the common identity essential to turning a fragile state into a viable nation, a troubled democratic tradition, and war perpetrated by forces inside and outside its borders. Lessons learned from these conflicts will ease understanding and resolution elsewhere.
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Sandra Mackey is a veteran journalist who has written many books on the Middle East, including The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein, The Saudis, and The Iranians. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.From Booklist:
Reporter Mackey focuses on Lebanon, “the most transparent of all Arab states,” to offer insight into the complexities of and challenges posed by the Middle East. She examines the cultural, religious, economic, and historical factors that contribute to the current politics within the Middle East—specifically Lebanon—and with Western nations, understanding that the Middle East has been complicated by artificial boundaries set by Westerners after World War I and interest in protecting the state of Israel. Those boundaries have not altered the strong influence of loyalty to ethnicity, tribe, religion, or family. Mackey maintains that Lebanon offers a microcosm of every major issue that has plagued the broader Middle East, including Palestinian statehood, Sunni-Shia sectarianism, and militant Islam. Despite its large Christian population and comparative cosmopolitanism, Lebanon took center stage in Western concerns about the Middle East until the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But Mackey maintains that Lebanon still holds the greatest promise to understanding the Middle East. She offers a clearly written, well-researched analysis of Lebanon and broader Middle Eastern issues. --Vanessa Bush
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