Even up to the eve of the civil war, some observers saw the Lebanese system as essentially stable, and exhibiting some of the virtues of liberty and pluralism which had been commended by the French traveller de Volney a century before. But for others its structure was so seriously flawed as to be resolved only by revolution. The civil war resulted ultimately from a conglomeration of interdependent factors – the religious conflict of Christian and Shi’a Muslim, the social divisions exemplified in the ‘Belt of Misery’ around Beirut, and the ethnic frictions between the Arab host culture and the Occidentalised Maronites. This book, first published in 1980, is a lively and incisive study of one of the most ravaged countries of this generation.
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