Here British novelist and travel writer John Sykes takes the Lebanese pulse before, during, and after the June, 1967, Arab-Israeli War. Sykes' diary shows how people (principally the elitist clan of Sheik Nassib and a few taxi drivers) shift their views from a hesitant attraction to Pan-Arabism to ardent (verbal) defense of Nasser after the Israeli onslaught. Although Sykes was protected by the sheik's influence and hospitality, he had one unpleasant encounter with wealthy schoolboys who had absorbed the anti-British agitprop of Radio Damascus: ""I am sorry, sir,"" he was told politely, ""I don't hate you personally, but from now on I must hate the British."" On the other hand, Sykes offers his own political hot potatoes: ""I take it for granted that they should absorb Israel, within this populous Arab region, but through osmosis, over a century. . . . Israel need not be indigestible."" All in all, the Lebanon Sykes ambles through--usually quite amiably--is cultured, hospitable, eminently rich. But though his ""specialty is nuance"" (the publishers), his attempt at combing in impressionistic detail through the fabric of life in Lebanon occasionally causes him to lose the specific thread.