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Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah's Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel Hardcover – October 25, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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In the Arena: Good Citizens, a Great Republic, and How One Speech Can Reinvigorate America by Pete Hegseth
"In The Arena" by Pete Hegseth
A call to arms for restoring American virtues and renewing America’s strength using Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena speech, by Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Nicholas Blanford’s Killing Mr. Lebanon
 
“A rich piece of storytelling . . . brilliant stuff.”—Scott MacLeod, Middle East correspondent, Time magazine
 
“This is not only a real-life thriller but a story with huge implications for the future of the region. Drawing on more than a decade of experience in Lebanon, Blanford is the man to tell it.”—Richard Beeston, foreign editor, The Times
 
“As gripping as a thriller, yet packed with sober insight . . . required reading for anyone interested in today’s Middle East.”—Joshua Landis, author of SyriaComment.com and associate professor of Middle Eastern studies, University of Oklahoma
 
 “A brisk portrait of the man’s travails and legacy.”—Max Rodenbeck, The New York Review of Books

About the Author

Nicholas Blanford, the Beirut correspondent for The Times of London and The Christian Science Monitor, has lived in Lebanon since 1994. He is a regular contributor to Time magazine and Jane’s Information Group publications. An acknowledged authority on Hezbollah, he has acted as a consultant on Lebanese and Syrian affairs for private firms and government institutions. He has made numerous television and radio appearances, including on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar channel, CBS’s 60 Minutes, CNN and CNN International, Fox, ABC, Irish television, the BBC, National Public Radio, and other American and Canadian radio and television stations. Blanford is the author of Killing Mr. Lebanon: The Assassination of Rafik Hariri and Its Impact on the Middle East.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1St Edition edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400068363
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068364
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning addition to the sea of books on the Israel-Arab conflict genre. Welcome in that it, unusually for a Western author, approaches the subject from a wholly Arab - in this case Hezebollah - perspective. It makes for enlightening reading. It's also pacy and fluent, mostly resisting the urge to submerge itself in a sea of geo-political babble. For that author Nicholas Blanford, a journalist based in Beirut, deserves immense credit. He has made good use of what are very good sources within Hezbollah and southern Lebanon to lace the book with facts, revelations and detailed descriptions. Much of it enters the public domain for the first time here. The book is at its best when Blanford writes about his own experiences on the ground, whether the claustrophobic search for Hezbollah bunkers or amidst the carnage after the 1996 Israeli shelling on the UN outpost at Cana. However, this is still an imperfect book. There are no maps of southern Lebanon, nor pictures of the main characters or events. Organisational charts tabling the rise of Hezbollah are also missing. Blanford covers this in the early chapters, but the chart would have been a handy reference point to flip to later in the book. The strength of Blanford's sources are, paradoxically, also a weakness of the book. Hezbollah, by Blanford's admission, are masters of disinformation and in some parts a reader is never quite sure where the truth begins and ends. Blanford also does not subject Hezbollah to any rigour over some of their actions, notably why their fighters retreated into Cana's UN outpost in 1996, thus inviting Israeli shelling. But don't let these oversights dim your enthusiasm. This book remains an essential read, particularly as the Israelis and Hezbollah prepare for another war.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was surprised at how good this book is. Despite its significant military and political power, and well-deserved status as "the most powerful non-state military force in the world," Hezbollah remains by its own necessity and design a "shadowy" organization, and thus a challenging object for anyone wishing to research its history, structure, operational record, and military capabilities. In "Warriors of God," Nicholas Blanford, since 1994 the Beirut correspondent for "The Times" and several other newspapers and magazines, has succeeded rather brilliantly in offering as thorough a portrait of Hezbollah as we are likely to have for many years hence.
South Lebanon, while ethnically diverse and topographically rugged, is not a big place, and in his seventeen years of reporting prior to "Warriors of God"'s 2011 publication, Blanford has ranged all over its varied landscape, usually while covering the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. He has also gained access to a diverse body of Hezbollah members, from part-time militiamen and full-time fighters, to an interview with the head of Hezbollah himself, Hassan Nasrallah, and various other officials.
Blanford follows the arc of Shiite history in the Jabal Amil region (roughly today's South Lebanon) from the Middle Ages to Lebanon's independence in the mid-1940s, and into the 1970s-'80s when the marginalized Lebanese Shiites sought more effective representation in Lebanon's confessional political system. Hezbollah emerged in this latter period as a Shiite militia in the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) more closely aligned with Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini than the mainstream Shiite militia, Amal. But Hezbollah found its real purpose with Israel's 1982 invasion of southern Lebanon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Blanford has spent decades covering Hezbollah and he fills the book with personal experiences in southern Lebanon. Some might not like the book, because most of the focus is on Hezbollah and he does not portray Israel in the best light. The author doesn't sugar coat anything.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Initial thoughts before a summary of the book:
*The writing, as one reviewer noted, is “pacy.” In many places it reads like a novel. The author’s 1st-person narrative adds flavor.
*It is slanted towards Hezbollah, though not uncritically.

Key argument: “Syria is the vital geo-strategic lynchpin connecting Iran to Hezbollah. It grants Hezbollah strategic depth and political backing, and serves as a conduit for the transfer of heavy weapons across the rugged border with Lebanon” (Blanford xvi).

Unlike other paramilitary/terrorist groups, or at least how they are perceived, Hezbollah provided for the people’s welfare. If the Israelis bulldozed your home, they would build you a new one. If your husband was killed, Hezbollah would see you are taken care of.

Hezbollah’s Evolution

The Taif Agreement: coming at the tail end of the Lebanese civil war. In some ways it redefine how Hezbollah would operate (93ff)

(1) It established Syria as the dominant Arab power
(2) There was new leadership in Iran. Hezbollah now had to accommodate itself to more moderate allies.

One of the things that makes Hezbollah so dangerous is it routinely adapted its strategies over 20 years against a superior force. As a result IDF knew it faced “a full-fledged insurgency by an enemy trained and armed by Iran, politically protected by Syria, and implementing ever more effective and deadly tactics” (146).

Israel’s problem: its initial purpose in occupying Lebanon was to protect its northern border. Hezbollah quickly negated that. If provoked, Hezbollah could rain Katyusha rockets on Israel. Therefore, Israel had to find a way to strike and neutralize Hezbollah without Lebanese casualties.
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