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A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman Paperback – May 12, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Wadad Makdisi Cortas was the principal of the Ahliah National School for Girls in Lebanon for twenty-six years, and the mother of four children, including Mariam Said, wife of Edward Said. Wadad Makdisi Cortas died in 1979.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 1st Printing edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584294
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Martha Dewell on May 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written, engrossing story of a remarkable
woman and her account of life in Lebanon and the region, spanning
the early 20th century to the late 1970's. She takes the reader
into a different world and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey!
The story of her extraordinary life is woven into the narrative
of the history and politics of the era, together with vivid
descriptions of daily and family life, the landscape, people and
friends - prominent and otherwise.
For those seeking to better know and understand this region, its
history and its people - which are so little known and understood
in the U.S. - or for those seeking an inspiring story of a
principled Arab woman dedicated to education and service - or both -
this is a must-read!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Louis A. LeBlanc on June 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
After reading "A Peace To End All Peace", I was looking to read more about the lingering effects from World War One but not from Western eyes. This was an excellent book!
This book is written from an Arabic point of view. I gained an appreciation for Arab peoples and their view on life and the world. It's an embarrassment to come from Louisiana , home of the Congressman who proudly stated that we should arrest any one wearing a diaper on their head wrapped with a fan belt.
If you want to gain a broader understanding about how we got to where we are today, read this book. News media in the west is pitiful. An informed public needs to have a solid understanding of what happened in the past before listening to media in the U.S.A. And this book gives a good balanced view from the Eastern perspective.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karen Malpede on June 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book, which is both the personal memoir of a fascinating broad-minded accomplished woman educator and a political history of the forces riling her enlightened world. Her empathy for Jewish refugees and their children whom she educates in her cosmpolitan school is balanced against her knowledge of the plight of the Palestinian children, separated from family and land, whom she also educates and cares for. She worked for and longed for tolerance, acceptance, and the integration into a cosmopolitan life of people of all faiths and creeds; she watched the dream recede until it ended in Civil War in Lebanon, the expulsion of the Palestinians and a militarized Israeli state. Through it all, she found sustenance in music, in the accomplishments of her students, and of her own four children, in the stories of the people who lived in her mountain village, and in the beauty of the land. The world she loved and brings to life is a world all people of good will might love. With a foreword by her daughter and an afterword by her granddaughter, the reader also follows three generations of Arab women and comes to admire each.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By earth dweller on August 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was a student at Madam Cortas' school in the mid-1960s. While I admired and respected her and I loved Lebanon, I understood little of her life and the heritage of the land she loved, from Beirut to Baghdad to Jerusalem and back, across borders that would not exist but for the ambitions and interests of the far-away politicians and peoples in Europe, before the catestrophic consequences of European ideologies, and beyond imprint of organized violence on what is now Lebanon. Even the textbook I used in my history class the year I attended Cortas' school bore a colonial imprint; literally an imprint of a UK publisher, this text of ancient history was entitled _The World Before Britian_.

_A World I Loved_ drew me in and challenged my views of the terrain and the people of what are now Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. Cortas teaches history from the too rare perspective of an optimistic, educated, compassionate Arab woman, a woman who held her identity as an Arab woman with great pride. Cortas dedicated her life to educating girls and to working toward a curriculum grounded in the profound history and experiences of Arab peoples. Her story should be essential reading for anyone who wants human understanding the Middle East or who questions limited images we in the U.S. have of what it could have meant live the life of an Arab woman in the 20th century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ghassan Karam on August 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I bought "A World I Loved" at a book reading held by Mariam Cortas I was not sure that I was going to read the book. I had known the Cortas family for over fifty years, and I thought I would not learn anything new. Boy, was I wrong. I started reading the book on my 30 minute train ride home and then I stayed awake until the wee hours of the next day until I finished it.
In hindsight, I think that my attraction to the book was strengthened many times over by the wonderfully written introduction by Mariam Cortas , the daughter of the author.Her account was full of candor and revealed some very special intimate details about the life of "The Arab Educator" par excellence. (We learn for example that Mrs. Cortas never had a bank checking account).
The book itself is a concise history of the forces that have shaped the Middle East after WWI told through the lens of the personal experiences of a woman who spent a life time teaching, preaching and discussing such important topics as the injustice of the Sykes Picot accord.
As much as I liked the book it yet left me wondering if it had been over edited. The early parts of the book do not provide enough explanation for the positions that Mrs Cortas took and how she arrived at them. The latter part of the book is so over edited that at times a full year is dispensed with in one paragraph.
Let me end this review on a personal note. This eminently informative and pleasant book does not give one an insight into the wonderful personal attributes of why Mrs. Cortas was such a galvanizing force in Lebanon and the Middle East. Her biggest asset was her temperament; she was confident , passionate, considerate, rational and a person who inspired trust.
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