Hezbollah: A Short History (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)

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9780691131245: Hezbollah: A Short History (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)


Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong. Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization--nor is it likely to disappear soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group--which combines the functions of a militia, a social service and public works provider, and a political party--is more popular than ever in the Middle East while retaining its strong base of support in Lebanon. And Hezbollah didn't merely confront Israel and withstand its military onslaught. Hezbollah's postwar reconstruction efforts were judged better than the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina--not by al-Jazeera, but by an American TV journalist. In Hezbollah, one of the world's leading experts on Hezbollah has written the essential guide to understanding the complexities and paradoxes of a group that remains entrenched at the heart of Middle East politics.


With unmatched clarity and authority, Augustus Richard Norton tells how Hezbollah developed, how it has evolved, and what direction it might take in the future. Far from being a one-dimensional terrorist group, Norton explains, Hezbollah is a "janus-faced" organization in the middle of an incomplete metamorphosis from extremism to mundane politics, an evolution whose outcome is far from certain. Beginning as a terrorist cat's-paw of Iran, Hezbollah has since transformed itself into an impressive political party with an admiring Lebanese constituency, but it has also insisted on maintaining the potent militia that forced Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 after almost two decades of occupation.


The most accessible, informed, and balanced analysis of the group yet written, Hezbollah is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Middle East.


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From the Back Cover:


"Hezbollah is a timely and landmark work. Richard Norton draws on his extensive expertise to offer a comprehensive history that will be of interest to anyone who seeks a better understanding of Hezbollah, Lebanon, or current developments in the Middle East."--Lee Hamilton, Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission and Co-Chair of the Iraq Study Group


"One of the most remarkable developments in the Middle East in recent years is Hezbollah's meteoric rise to power. No one can better explain the broad implications of this phenomenon than Richard Norton. Drawing on his vast knowledge of Lebanon, Norton has written a timely and readable primer that lucidly explains the intricacies of Hezbollah's ideology and history and demystifies its political strategy."--Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future


"Norton is uniquely positioned to provide an analysis of Hezbollah, one that is historical, nuanced, and informed by more than twenty-five years of experience as a researcher and policy advisor on Lebanon. He is one of the foremost American experts on Hezbollah and Shi'i politics in Lebanon. In addition, Norton's writing is always clear and accessible. This concise and accurate primer will be invaluable to general readers, reporters, and scholars."--Lara Deeb, author of An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi'i Lebanon


"I recommend this book with greatest enthusiasm. Norton is one of the premier--if not the premier--American authorities on Shi'i politics in Lebanon. Add to this the fact that he is a talented writer who can communicate complex ideas in a fluent, engaging, and accessible fashion. Telling quotes and anecdotes enliven the book and ground it. Norton is the rare academic whose expertise doesn't prevent him from communicating well with a general reader."--Eva Bellin, Hunter College, City University of New York


About the Author:

Augustus Richard Norton, Professor of International Relations and Anthropology at Boston University, was a military observer for the United Nations in southern Lebanon when Hezbollah and rival Shi'i parties were taking form there in the early 1980s. A former U.S. Army officer and West Point professor, he has conducted research in Lebanon for close to three decades, and his book "Amal and the Shi'a" is widely considered to be a classic account of the political mobilization of Lebanon's Shi'i Muslims.

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