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Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East Paperback – 2 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571237428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571237425
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 192,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A carefully documented, clearly-argued and elegant book that deserves to become the standard reference work on Lebanon and its neighbours for years to come.' --Jonathan Randal, Literary Review

'A magnificent, scholarly achievement, amazing in its lucid and concise recounting of the tormented past century of Lebanese and Middle East history. With its publication, David Hirst reaffirms his place as a leading historian of the region.' --Lara Marlowe, Irish Times

'[Hirst] is better qualified than anyone to write a sweeping modern history of the region ... Hirst rattles through this complex story with clarity and authority and puts the whole tragic story in the context of the wider Middle East conflict.' --Richard Beeston, Spectator

'Provocative history of Lebanon ... [it] also illuminates many of the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict. --Guardian

'[Hirst] is better qualified than anyone to write a sweeping modern history of the region ... Hirst rattles through this complex story with clarity and authority and puts the whole tragic story in the context of the wider Middle East conflict.' --Richard Beeston, Spectator

Book Description

Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East, by David Hirst, is a history of Lebanon from one of the greatest historians of the Middle East.

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Hirst, a former Middle East correspondent of the Guardian, has written a superb history of Lebanon's involuntary role in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The first half of the book is mostly a detailed examination of Israeli-Lebanese relations from the early days of Zionist settlement in the 1920s until the 1982 Israeli invasion. For Hirst, force has been a cardinal principle in establishing the Zionist state, combined with ambitions to establish a friendly Christian-Lebanese dominated client state in Lebanon.

Israel's overt motive to invade in 1982 was to secure its northern settlements from Palestinian rocket attack. But, infuriatingly, the PLO's strict observance of a ceasefire, despite Israeli attempts to provoke a breach, and strenuous international efforts to mediate a resolution on the border, gave lie to this.

The war was an imperial venture, with stupendous ambitions: under the auspices of its then defence minister Ariel Sharon (`described `as a war looking for a place to happen') Israel sought to refashion Lebanon as a Christian-dominated client-state, destroy the PLO (and by extension break the will of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories to resist) and deport Palestinians en masse to Jordan, whereby it would become `the Republic of Palestine.' Thus the Palestinians would have their `state' and Israel's supremacy over the Occupied Territories be assured.

The plan ended in failure, but not before the grisly massacres at Sabra and Shatila, perpetuated by Israel's Christian allies, with Israeli connivance. The PLO was evicted from the country but replaced by an even more implacable foe: Hizbollah, a movement which went on to inflict on the Israel what no Arab army had ever been able to do: defeat.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Smyth VINE VOICE on 22 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wide-ranging, balanced and thoughtful account of modern Lebanon with its focus squarely on the wider regional conflicts that have interacted in such complex and often violent ways with the country's own competing sectarian identities.

David Hirst's style is dispassionate and understated. He is an old school journalist light years away from pumped-up personal anecdotes and overegged "scoops", a humble and even quiet man whose reports in the Guardian have contained genuine insight and sure-grounded analysis.

It is unsettling, therefore, that such a distinguished journalist, who has covered the region for half a century should end his book with pessimism that the regional conflict, centred on Israel and the Palestinians, can be resolved peacefully.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 Aug. 2012
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The Guardians former Middle East correspondent and long term resident of Beirut (kidnapped twice) has penned a fine book telling the story of Lebanons role (putting the occupied territories to one side) as the main battleground of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The book begins with an overview of the period from 1860 to 1923, from the Ottoman period to the point where an enlarged Lebanon was carved out of Greater Syria by the French, this after the Arab provinces of the now deceased Ottoman Empire had been divided between the French and the British, with Palestine being simultaneously pledged to the Arabs and the Zionists. This was a crucial point in the regions history that set the context within which conflict was to flourish for the rest of the century and beyond.

Hirst paints a picture of Lebanon, its social-economic and ethnic-religious divisions and its sectarian democracy, before inevitably having to cross borders and examine events in neighbouring states: the rise of Arab Nationalism, the Zionist projects endevours in Mandatory Palestine and the Arab resistance to this (culminating in the Arab Revolt of 1936-39), the breakdown of British rule in Palestine and the subsequent conflict between the Zionists and the Arabs that brought Israel into existance, and a large number of Palestinian refugees into Lebanon upsetting the finely balanced ethnic and religious demography. This is followed by war after war after war including the decade and a half of civil war within Lebanon itself which its two neighbours, Syria and Israel extensively participated in, the former "invited" the latter invading first in the 1970's, then catastrophically in 1982 after which they occupied areas of the country until finally driven out by Hizbullah in 2000.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 12 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books ever written about the Middle East, along with Hirst's previous book, The gun and the olive branch: the roots of violence in the Middle East, (Faber and Faber, 3rd edition, 2003).

The US state is trying to impose a new order on the Middle East. The USA, allied with the Israeli state, is scheming to defeat, break up and weaken Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. This is in line with Norman Podhoretz's advice urging Israel and the USA to wage `World War Four' against `militant Islam'.

Frontal assaults by the USA on Iraq and by Israel on Lebanon (1982 and 2006) failed, so the USA and Israel have turned to using subversion against Libya and Syria, hiring fundamentalists to attack these relatively secular states. Israel is also using terrorism against Iran.

In October 2008, General Eisenkot, commander of Israel's northern front, called for the army to use `disproportionate power' for `harming the population', openly proclaiming the intent to commit war crimes. On 4 November 2008, Israeli forces carried out a raid on Gaza, killing six people, provoking a Hamas response. Israel then attacked Gaza, killing 1,330 people, including 410 children, for the loss of only 13 Israeli soldiers.

Peace Now, including Amos Oz, backed Israel's wars against Lebanon and Gaza. The Knesset voted to ban Israel's three Arab parties from general elections.

All the Middle East's problems are linked to Palestine. Only the two-state solution will bring peace to the Middle East. Palestine means peace.
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