Lebanon's Predicament

In This Review

Lebanon's Predicament

By Samir Khalaf
Columbia University Press, 1987
328 pp. $30.00
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Most of Professor Khalaf's chapters were written as papers over the past two decades, but they fit nicely together with new ones to make a deep and integrated study of Lebanon's political culture. That country's history is better understood and told by a sociologist like Khalaf than by conventional historians or political scientists. He shows again and again how the primordial ties of family and sect have persisted into the contemporary age and how these traditions, more than the ideas and institutions of the nation state, have helped to shape it. Those factors which at the communal level have made Lebanese society viable are unfortunately the same ones which on the national scale have pulled it to pieces and made it incapable of resisting outside interference-so that today, as Khalaf tellingly describes it, that society is in a state of dismemberment.

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