9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Horrors of the Nation,
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This review is from: Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War (Paperback)
Robert Fisk's extensive account of the Lebanese civil war is an amazing mosaic of events and stories that in its entirety paint a pretty good picture of the horrors that took place from 1976 to 1996. Mr Fisk has an almost unparalleled ability to be on the spot as events are either unfolding or have just happened.
Pity the Nation is the story of a journalist working in pretty dire conditions and a first account witness statement to the atrocities of civil war, Israeli invasion, more Israeli invasion and involvement by Syria, France, USA, Italy and many other countries that have somehow seemed to get involved in the destiny of Lebanon.
Fisk, along with Norwegian journalist Karsten Tveit, were the first to enter Sabra and Shatila after the massacre and recounts in graphic detail the sheer horror of the systematic extermination by the Christian Lebanese Forces and under the watchful eye of the occupying Israeli Defence Force. Fisk also found himself passing through Hama in Syria in 1982 when President Assad's forces killed between 10,000 and 25.000 civilians in an attempt to oust Muslim Brotherhood influence on Syrian politics. Lastly, he worked with Terry Andersson who was later to be kidnapped and held hostage for over 5 years. It is these stories, along with many more, that combine to give a full and fairly clear picture of war and politics in the Levant over a 20 year period.
Unfortunately the book does not work as a historical account and there are a number of omissions in the book that would need to be included for it to work. More attention would need to be given to the bombing of the US Embassy (such as motive and speculation / evidence as to who was involved), the kidnappings would need to be elaborated and especially the kidnapping of Terry Waite, which I think is dealt with very superficially. Fisk never pretends that Pity the Nation is a historical description of war in Lebanon.
Fisk is a brave man (you would have to be to have lived in Lebanon through the war) and has made himself controversial by writing the book. There is a multitude of very critical reviews by people who in one way or another find it difficult to deal with the very gory and almost unbelievable facts of the conflict. I, for one, believe Fisk's account to be reasonably truthful and precise, as he does not seem to be pushing any one sided agenda. But judge for yourself and be prepared for some stomach churning stuff . Anyone who went through what he did and was prepared to put it on paper afterwards deserves much more than a 5 Star Rating on Amazon!