Reviewed by Na'eem Jeenah

Sandra Mackey sets herself a few tasks for this book. Firstly, she expects to give the reader an overview of the contemporary situation in Lebanon and to analyse the issues besetting Lebanese society by examining its history and sociology. Secondly, she hopes to use Lebanon to show that the rest of the Arab world has similar issues that it needs to confront and that Lebanon is 'mirrored' in the Arab world. Finally, she expects to do all this in a readable, easy manner. She succeeds in some of these tasks and fails (sometimes miserably) in others.

By Fawaz A. Gerges

In an important and alarming report to the United Nations Security Council early July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that an increase in tensions between Lebanon and Israel could lead to a new war with potentially devastating consequences for the entire region.

The UN chief cited dozens of instances when the two antagonists - Israel and Hizbullah - almost broke out into war, and accused them of violating the 2006 ceasefire resolution that ended the 34-day July war in 2006. While Hizbullah continued to maintain "a substantial military capacity", Ban said, Israel continued to violate the ceasefire by conducting daily flights over Lebanon, and refused to withdraw from the disputed border village of Ghajar.

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