The politics of Lebanon has been described before, but David Gilmour's book deserves three stars for keen observation, frankness, and crisp writing. He places the civil strife and foreign intervention that have marked the years since 1975 in the context of centuries of history and of the traditional game of power politics played by the leaders of Lebanon's warring sects and factions. But he is not blankly neutral. He is merciless in his portrait of the Maronites, relatively sympathetic to Muslims, Druse, and to Syria, and in his last chapter his indignation at Israel and the consequences of the Israeli invasion overflows.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.