THE CONVENANT: Love and Death in Beirut by Barbara with Barbara Rogan Newman

THE CONVENANT: Love and Death in Beirut

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An account of the affair between American TV-news producer Newman and Bashir Gemayel, whose attempt to unify wartorn Lebanon ended with his assassination shortly after his election as president in 1982: a potentially compelling, but mishandled, story of love and danger, told with the help of novelist Rogan (Cafe Nero, 1987). Newman met Gemayel, then head of the Lebanese Christian militia, in 1980 while producing a program about terrorism. Though other journalists dismissed his Phalangist forces as Fascist, Newman was impressed by his mission to unify his country under a democracy. She also fell in love (professionalism--but not Gemayel's wife--made her wait to consummate the relationship until the film was in the can). The portrait of Gemayel here is not a very intimate or clear one, nor are the sometimes controversial conclusions about the Middle East well developed as Newman focuses mostly on the trials and triumphs of her own career. The author's courage cannot be doubted: after Gemayel's assassination, Newman traveled through the Bekaa Valley--dangerous to begin with, controlled by the hostage-taking Hezbollah--in the company of the man she believed responsible for the killing, hoping to confront him and learn the truth; but this remarkable trip is recounted with little drama or immediacy. Newman's story will probably make a terrific movie someday; the book, however, is skippable.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
Publisher: Crown