Writing with the fervor that other American reporters have brought to the Congo or Vietnam, Washington Post correspondent...


GOING ALL THE WAY: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers, and the War in Lebanon

Writing with the fervor that other American reporters have brought to the Congo or Vietnam, Washington Post correspondent Randal will convince the drained but much-enlightened reader that Lebanon is indeed ""a cursed and bloodsoaked land""--for which American indifference must share the blame with Lebanese Christian aggression (against, in effect, the Muslim majority) and Israeli callousness. Lebanon is also, of course, a morass and a tangle. Randal, on the spot since the 1975-76 civil war, leads off with last year's double blow: the assassination of Christian Maronite president-elect Bashir Gemayel, and the succeeding Israeli-backed Maronite massacre of Palestinians in the Shatila camp (the facts are indisputable). Then, in long chapters of complex, mutually supportive narrative, he traces dominant strands of the tragic tangle: Christian Maronite pretensions (and anti-Arabism); the 1975-76 collapse of the shaky Christian-Muslim state; the rise of the proto-Fascist Phalange and the fanatical Gemayel; American neglect and (via Israel) de facto complicity; Israeli connivance (with Syria) at destabilization; Sharon's thrust to Beirut. Along the way, Randal pays tribute to Beirut as ""the last of the great Levantine cities"" and to the ""sheer exuberance"" of the Lebanese; ""suddenly,"" he writes with great effect, ""this land, supposedly wallowing in the docile pleasures of the consumer society, was giving anarchy a bad name."" Similarly, he disabuses Americans of illusions about a ""democratic,"" enlightened pro-Western Lebanon. He also demonstrates the inevitability of both the assassination and the massacre--and why the immediate perpetrators (whose identities are well-known) will never be brought to account. This is, distressingly, another in the annals of political underdevelopment (exacerbated by self-interested outsiders) whose ""complexity and perversity"" Randal has strikingly captured.

Pub Date: May 1, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983