By (author) Samir Kassir, Foreword by Robert Fisk, Translated by Malcolm B. Debevoise

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 656 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 228mm x 46mm | 907g
  • Publication date: 7 December 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520271262
  • ISBN 13: 9780520271265
  • Illustrations note: 115 b/w photographs, 17 maps
  • Sales rank: 387,019

Product description

Widely praised as the definitive history of Beirut, this is the story of a city that has stood at the crossroads of Mediterranean civilization for more than four thousand years. The last major work completed by Samir Kassir before his tragic death in 2005, "Beirut" is a tour de force that takes the reader from the ancient to the modern world, offering a dazzling panorama of the city's Seleucid, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and French incarnations. Kassir vividly describes Beirut's spectacular growth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, concentrating on its emergence after the Second World War as a cosmopolitan capital until its near destruction during the devastating Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990. Generously illustrated and eloquently written, "Beirut" illuminates contemporary issues of modernity and democracy while at the same time memorably recreating the atmosphere of one of the world's most picturesque, dynamic, and resilient cities.

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Author information

One of the leading voices for progressive change in the Middle East, Samir Kassir (1960-2005) taught at the Institut des Sciences Politiques of the Universite Saint-Joseph in Beirut, worked as a journalist and editorial writer for the daily An-Nahar newspaper there, and was a co-founder of the Democratic Left Movement in Lebanon. The author of several other books, including Being Arab, Kassir was assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut in June 2005.

Review quote

"An evocative portrait of a great but tragic metropolis." -- Gilbert Taylor Booklist 20101101 "A significant and important book for anyone with an interest in the city and its ongoing troubles, the Middle East in general and in the relationship between modernity and urbanity." -- Ghassan Hage The Australian 20110202 "Kassir embodied Beirut's variant of the polyglot Levantine ideal... His biography of the city of which he was a vital constituent is unlikely to be surpassed." London Review Of Books 20120308 "A unique contribution to the growing literature on modern and contemporary Lebanon... Erudite, evocative, and highly compelling." Review Of Middle East Stds 20120828 "Kassir charts in intricate detail the damage done to Beirut through architectural crimes that portended the greater destruction to come." -- Charles Glass London Review Of Books 20120308 "A definitive history of the city." Middle East Journal 20110331

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Foreword by Robert Fisk Translator's Note Acknowledgments Abbreviations Prologue: The Eyes of the Mind Part One: From the Ancient to the Modern World 1. Beirut before Beirut 2. The Great Transformation 3. The Ibrahim Pasha Era 4. The Roads from Damascus 5. A Window on Ottoman Modernity Part Two: The Awakening 6. A Cultural Revolution 7. Between Boston and Rome 8. The Horizon of the World 9. Uncertain Identities Part Three: The Capital of the Mandate 10. France Broadens Its Mission 11. The French City 12. Grand-Liban and Petit Paris 13. A Crucible for Independence Part Four: The Cosmopolitan Metropolis of the Arabs 14. The Switzerland of the East 15. Beirut, Male and Female 16. The Pleasures of the World 17. Ecochard's Lost Wagers Part Five: The City of Every Danger 18. On the Knife's Edge 19. The End of Innocence 20. Beirut, O Beirut! Epilogue: To Be or To Have Been Notes Glossary of Arabic and Turkish Terms Bibliography Photographic Credits Index