Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions

In This Review

Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions

By William Harris
Markus Wiener, 1997
354 pp. $39.95
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Lebanon may now be slowly rebuilding from its long civil war, but the words "Beirut" and "Lebanonization" will live on for some time as ways of describing an extreme form of sectarian and ethnic conflict. This attempt to unscramble the Lebanese puzzle places considerable importance on the misfit between state and society, the sectarian structures that were reinforced by the political system, and the unfortunate role of outside intervention. The author seems to believe that the current political system emerging from the Taif Agreement of 1989 will once again buttress the sectarian structure of politics that led to the last civil war. Such an outcome, he indicates, might have been avoided if the heavy Syrian hand could have been removed from Lebanese political life. It is not clear, however, that there was a missed opportunity to end foreign intervention. This account is often more journalistic than scholarly and has the virtues and limitations of such an approach.