BEIRUT FRAGMENTS: A War Memoir by Jean Said Makdisi


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An impressionistic account by a Beirut housewife of the Lebanese civil war. Born in Jerusalem of Arab-Christian parents, Makdisi moved to Beirut as a young adult, went to college in the US, married a Lebanese, and returned to Beirut in 1972 when her husband was offered a teaching position at the American University. She loved the city then, with its high fashion, cultural events, and pro-Palestinian bias that she shared. When civil war came, she refused to take clear sides between Christian and Palestinian, but in a way made her choice by continuing to live in Muslim West Beirut. Makdisi makes the point that to describe the war only as a confrontation between Christian and Muslim is to oversimplify, and she astutely calls attention to the underlying class antagonisms. However, since her friends and others encountered here are almost always the moneyed and well educated, we learn little about the less fortunate. Makdisi offers a litany of the catastrophes that have beset her city, but carefully avoids placing blame on Christian, Muslim, or Druze; rather, she concentrates on the senselessness of the indiscriminate shelling She enumerates the various international failures to bring peace and looks back with romantic nostalgia to the pre-1975 years, when Beirut was cosmopolitan, tolerant, and vital. Partition into religious cantonments would be, she believes, the worst solution to Lebanon's problems; she concludes with an impassioned appeal for peace and justice. Sentimental, but of interest for its rare insider's view of a tragic and protracted conflict.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1990
ISBN: 089255245X
Publisher: Persea