- Series: Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics
- Hardcover: 200 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (March 25, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691131244
- ISBN-13: 978-0691131245
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,068,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hezbollah: A Short History (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) 1st Edition, 1st Printing Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In this remarkably thorough, articulate portrait of Hezbollah, Norton, a Boston University anthropology and international relations professor and former U.S. Army officer and U.N. military observer, analyzes how the organization was formed, how it evolved and its current role in Lebanese politics. More than just an Iranian-funded terrorist organization, Hezbollah is a comprehensive provider of social services to Lebanon's disenfranchised Shiite masses, and a highly respected political player, known to forswear corruption. Formed in 1982 under Iranian tutelage, and prompted by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah has made a goal of fomenting Islamic revolution in Lebanon and authorizes violence to this end. In the 1990s, its policies in support of this goal began to include parliamentary participation. After the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has emerged invigorated, flexing its military might and winning support through its rigorous postwar reconstruction. Norton's authoritative account is rooted in such important Middle East themes as the historical division between Sunni and Shiites and the origins of Iranian influence in Arab affairs. It is also personal, speckled with anecdotes from more than three decades of experience. Given the contentious subject, Norton's tone is remarkably even: Hezbollah is an organization he respects, but whose actions he does not condone. 10 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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"In this remarkably thorough, articulate portrait of Hezbollah, Norton . . . analyzes how the organization was formed, how it evolved and its current role in Lebanese politics. . . . Norton's authoritative account is rooted in such important Middle East themes as the historical division between Sunni and Shiites and the origins of Iranian influence in Arab affairs. It is also personal, speckled with anecdotes from more than three decades of experience. Given the contentious subject, Norton's tone is remarkably even: Hezbollah is an organization he respects, but whose actions he does not condone."--Publishers Weekly
"Augustus Richard Norton's timely Hezbollah chronicles that dramatic evolution and its sweeping implications for the region and beyond. His lucid primer is the first serious reappraisal of the radical Shiite group since last summer's war shattered six years of relative calm on one of the world's most volatile frontiers."--Jonathan Finer, Washington Post Book World
"This short, authoritative book, based on first-hand experience, efficiently analyses [Hezbollah's] status."--Iain Finlayson, The Times
"This excellent short history of Hezbollah . . . demonstrates that dismissing it as a 'terrorist organization' is both glib and dishonest. . . . . Everyone who wants to understand the complexities of the Middle East, and particularly those of Lebanon and Israel, and wants to reach the truth beyond the political rhetoric, should read this book."--Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald
"How do you classify and develop policy toward an organization that has committed acts of terrorism in the past, that currently provides important social services . . . that defends its country from occupation . . . that plays by the rules in official Lebanese national politics? . . . Norton elucidates these domestic and international complexities in Hezbollah: A Short History. . . With other similarly complex organizations on the rise, such as Hamas in Palestine, Norton provides a model of how we might begin to think through their multidimensional, seemingly contradictory natures."--Allen McDuffee, In These Times
"In his new book Hezbollah, Augustus Richard Norton . . . provides a succinct account of the group's rise from the chaos created by Israel's invasions and occupation of Lebanon in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which ended only in 2000. Mr. Norton also explores the origins and political orientation of the group, now led by the Shiite cleric Hasan Nasrallah, in a complex web of religious and political identities in Lebanon--with a special emphasis on the role of Shia Islam in the organization."--Richard Byrne, Chronicle of Higher Education
"Augustus Richard Norton, an American academic and former U.S. army officer, has studied that Islamic fundamentalist organization since its formation. And now, in Hezbollah ... he offers a cogent analysis of its emergence and impact on Lebanese politics."--Sheldon Kirsher, Canadian Jewish News
"The most fluent survey of Hezbollah to date. This extremely accessible yet scholarly read covers the Lebanese resistance group from its inception to the current Lebanese political crisis, aided by a collection of poignant photographs and maps."--Margeret Hall, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
"The many complex and often changing dimensions of Hizbullah are presented in the book in a clear, concise manner that allows for a more accurate and complete understanding of what the group represents and aspires to achieve....Wherever one may stand on this spectrum of views, a vital starting point--offered in this small but rich volume--is an accurate, comprehensive view of why Hizbullah has succeeded as a political party, a sectarian representational group, a social services agency, and a resistance force, and why it continues to generate so much opposition at the same time."--Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star
"In an easily read, easily comprehended book, Norton traces the origins and history of Hezbollah.... The twisting allegiances of the players, the role of Syria and other neighboring states, the emergence of discord and sectarianism as the young movement matured and began to intrude on the elected government, all take place in the pressure cooker of a land and people long torn, used by factions for their own purposes."--Suzi Brozman, Atlanta Jewish Times
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It is the resolution of this conflict that will determine the fate of Lebanon amid the power struggles ongoing in the aftermath of the summer 2006 conflict that the author says split Lebanon into two groups; those who support the goals of the Cedar Revolution and those who feel victimized by the corrupt government and elites, seeking to share power at the expense of the Sunni power structure.
The pragmatism of Hezbollah seems without limits, whether cooperating with Communist or Christian groups in political parlays or in adhering to the "rules of the game" devised by them and the Israelis during the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon. It is this pragmatism that sets Hezbollah apart from other Islamist political organizations and Norton does a fine job of exploring it in detail.
A fascinating look that could have been far longer and examined far more but remains one of the best on the subject.
Unfortunately, this book is too brief to accomplish Mr. Norton's purpose of writing it. I can't put my finger on why I never felt any traction with the material. There is very little on the history of Hezbollah, and not enough on the other numerous sects, Syria and Iran and their complex interplay in Lebanese politics. If you have little knowledge of the history of Lebanon, you will certainly need basic supplemental reading to avoid confusion while reading this book. Much is referenced to Lebanon's bloody and protracted civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, but not in a holistic way.
If you're in Southern California, by the way, be sure to visit one of the best Lebanese restaurants in Long Beach called Open Sesame in Belmont Shore.
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As one who happened to be in South Lebanon at the time the fighting started in...Read more