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Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East Paperback – March 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586571
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A former Middle Eastern correspondent for the Guardian, Hirst (The Gun and the Olive Branch) chronicles the travails of modern Lebanon in this provocative polemic that doubles as a history of the Arab-Israeli struggle. Given Lebanon's tiny size, sectarian polity, and strategic location in a volatile region, Hirst observes that it was almost designed to be the everlasting battleground for others' political, strategic and ideological conflicts. Lebanon's role in the struggle for Palestine, however, is the author's primary interest. Displaced Palestinians flooded into southern Lebanon following the first Arab-Israeli War (1948) and spawned a guerilla 'state-within-a-state' on Israel's northern border. Hirst is solidly in the Palestinians' corner throughout; he inveighs against Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing and blocking progress toward a settlement of the Palestinian issue. The author also faults the United States for its deference to all things Israeli; takes to task Israel and the Israeli lobby in the U.S. for provoking the 2003 invasion of Iraq; and anoints the Iranians as the only true victor of America's war in Iraq. Hirst's is a passionately partisan and eloquent recounting of the tragic fate of modern Lebanon and the Palestinian people. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Hirst was for many years the Middle East correspondent of the Guardian. His seminal book on the Arab-Israeli conflict, The Gun and the Olive Branch, has been in print for thirty years.

Customer Reviews

It is great history, full of amazing detail and thorough research.
Iver E. Peterson
This is a must-read for anyone who really is interested in understanding the background to the mess which continues to haunt us.
JPeter Scott-Hansen
When will this happen, it's not known, though Hirst is confident in its eventuality.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Iver E. Peterson on April 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My Phalangist friends here in Beirut say, Oh, Hirst - he is in the pay of Hezbollah. While I'm certain that's not so, it's true that Hirst is strangely admiring of armed and militant Islam and of the Iranian and Syrian cats-paw posing as protectors of Lebanon in the South of the country, and he is unnecessarily venomous towards Israel in several instances. For example, gestures toward peace are always sincere coming from Syria and other Arab authorities, and always false and depraved coming from Israel. And Hirst seems also unaware of - or indifferent to - how Hezbollah and its Syrian and Iranian paymasters stand in opposition to the wonderful country Lebanon once was, and still is in parts - tolerant, humane and hospitable. A Hezbollah cleric recently issued one of his periodic statements in the Shiite suburbs south of Beirut reminding women of the importance of keeping their hair covered - does the world really need more of that? And Hezbollah's retention of their own arms is stifling the development of a normal civic government in the country, with the Shiite factions in the government recently insisting that it would not discuss the matter of Hesbollah's private army unless the media stopped writing about the matter. Again, not what the Middle East needs more of.
But the book's slightly skewed point of view is easily outweighed by its many virtues. It is great history, full of amazing detail and thorough research.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Desertwriter on March 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first I was unsure how Hirst could top his heroic Gun and Olive Branch:Roots of Violence in the Middle East...thinking that for 3 decades, with updates and a long desired comprehensive collection of all three editions in one, published in 2003, with a new 50,000 word forward, which brought the reader from the late 1980s (2nd edition) to the present decade-- the period leading up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, including insight into evangelistic Christian Zionism and their enmeshment --(concept of Zion and return for Jews)....the exclusion of the narrative of indigenous amended ...and events which led up to the British (who were in a "partitioning state of mind" across their Empire at that point in time)....Partitioning of Syria-Palestine-Transjordan-Levant along with the French as 'spoils" from their defeat (which would never have been possible in all likelihood, except for the unified power of the Arab clans from Hijaz and across the Arab world at the time )...conniving and treachery dealt via betrayal against the Arabs who longed for independence.
Here, in Hirst's latest opus...he picks up from that period...carefully documented presenting the reader with events and players within the Levant prior to 1919 Paris Peace conference --replete with Weizmann quotes and forward.
It must be read... an absolutely essential comprehensive "BIG PICTURE" epic history, in the same way that David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" did. .the era & series of events and schemes and epic historical narrative that will open minds & rip veils from the eyes of those who remain uninformed --whether as a result of inadequate public education in north america as well as the infinitely well oiled & funded propaganda machines that have driven North American ignorance for more than a century..
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By JPeter Scott-Hansen on April 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I had a small part in researching this book by translating one of the source books, I had no idea how amazing the final book would become. This is a must-read for anyone who really is interested in understanding the background to the mess which continues to haunt us. There is plenty of blame to go around, but we here in the US seldom get enough of the real picture to make sound judgements--this goes for our various governments of all shadings. Thanks, David Hirst, for this valuable contribution.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I was looking for an updated account of the Lebanon troubled history, so when I knew of this book, written by a veteran journalist with decades of experience about reporting the area, I decided to buy it. I was aware of Mr Hirst critical points of view about the subject, but an alternate point of view is always refreshing and welcome, so far as the critics are supported by facts. Since the writer was a journalist I supposed this would be the case, specially since the book was hailed as an objective account of the last 40 years of lebanese history. I was wrong.
Despite Mr Hirst's mastery of the narrative style (the book is easy to read) and penchant for assuming unorthodox positions, the book fails in several accounts. First of all, it lacks a bibliography, despite having extensive footnotes. When you check the references you realize that most of the sources used lack impartiality and/or serious academic credentials. Most of them belong to rabidly antiamerican or anti israeli publications. I don't know if someone outside the pro-palestine partisans can take seriously something published by the "Institute for Palestine Studies", whose approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict is, well, somewhat biased. This pales when you see Nasrallah's ravings quoted as a serious source. I'm aware that references from communist or nazi sources are necessary to have an adequate vision of let's say cold war or WW2, but it is necessary to complement the raw quote with a critical sense as well as confronting them with other sources. And this, is something that Hirst does not do, taking them at face value. To put an example, this is like using nazi propaganda to write a serious history of the Eastern Front campaign.
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