Michael Young is the offspring of a Lebanese mother and American father. When he was seven years old, the untimely death of his father caused his mother to return to Lebanon. He knows the Lebanese culture and politics well, but remained an impartial observant of historical developments from his early journalistic writing.
He has a unique and in-depth understanding of this east Mediterranean multi-faith, sectarian country that was governed by France after the Ottoman Empire was vanquished in 1919.
The Allies decided to put France in charge of Syria and Lebanon, which were part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries.
Lebanon was granted independence in 1940 with many rules and regulation to accommodate Maronites, Muslims, Druzes, and Christians of various sects.
The book is not chronological history, but is based on interviews with local politicians, Lebanese friends, fellow journalists, historical developments and observations.
Politics is always convoluted, It is part of living in a society, but in the Middle East, and particularly in Lebanon it takes the form of very complicated processes difficult to comprehend by western intellectuals, even if they live there for a long time.
The author, being a product of two cultures, and growing up in Lebanon, represents an exception. He knows that Lebanon id the barometer of the region, and that the USA and Iran are playing their hands via Lebanon.
Iran has been at it longer with its proxies of Syria and Hezbollah.
Since its creation, Lebanon was regarded by Syria as a trading nation, attractive to tourists, freewheeling, and financially savvy, but in need to be politically controlled for regional stability.
Lebanon was behind-the-scenes, politically controlled by the Syrian intelligence services from 1980’s until the withdrawal in 2005 but the country has paid a heavy price politically.
Here, politics involves the well-being and employment of individuals. For families without “connections”, very little can be achieved except surviving on a day-to-day basis.
M. Young, and excellent writer, and analyst, succeeded in explaining how Lebanese politics works. He also records how Syrians, Israelis, Iranians, Sunnis, Shiias, Americans, French and Druzes formulated their policies and acted to guard their interests, or so they thought.
Lebanese politicians with all their biases and faulty philosophies still think that sectarian policies are the only means for
the country to survive.
Lebanon and its politics can be regarded basically as Phoenicians, who one dominated Mediterranean trade from the east all the way to what is today Spain, acting, behaving as situations demanded and pragmatic.
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