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Insightful and extensively researched, Lebanon in the 1950s explores the differing mythologies of the Maronite, Druze and Sunni communities that led to a brief but brutal clash in Lebanon in 1958. This polemical and thought-provoking work offers a fresh perspective on a period in Lebanese history often seen as the product of international friction between pan-Arab nationalism and the growing threat to Western hegemony during the Cold War. Kanaan argues that it was the centuries-old cultural, political and religious tensions in the region that led to civil conflict: each community constructed a 'history' of Lebanon to justify their own ends, and in so doing helped to precipitate a national crisis. Lebanon in the 1950s is a fascinating overview of the interpretations surrounding the 'historical' evolution of the various communities that helped shaped Lebanon's vulnerable and volatile infrastructure, and what the US Department of Defence referred to as 'like war but not war' - a clash that was to have repercussions throughout the region for decades to follow.
Claude Kanaan is a History Professor at St Joseph University in Beirut. She completed a doctorate on Lebanon 1958 in 1995 at the School of African and Oriental Studies, London University.