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Beirut Fragments - A War Memoir

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Overview

A New York Times Notable Book: A celebrated memoir of life in war-torn Beirut, spanning the 1982 Israeli Invasion and fifteen years of civil war.

As relevant now as it was when first published in 1990, Beirut Fragments records what it is like to live amid shellings, bombings, and gunfights between militias in the streets. While others fled, Makdisi chose to stay, to raise her sons, and to participate in the spirited life of the remaining community. This intensely personal memoir deliberately avoids the political dimension, yet through an exploration of her own migrations—from Jerusalem to Cairo, the United States, and finally Beirut—Makdisi illuminates root causes that reach back to the region's colonial past and presents "a profound indictment of the inhuman politics of this conflict" (Michael C. Hudson, Georgetown University).
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Born in Jerusalem, raised in Egypt, educated in England and America, Makdisi married a Lebanese man and settled in Beirut in 1972. Despite the 1982 Israeli invasion and 15 years of civil war, the Makdisis are still there, ``clinging to the wreckage'' and maintaining a ``strange love for this mutilated city.'' The author of this beautifully crafted memoir delineates the lives and emotions of those who chose to stay, emphasizing the joie de vivre of friends and acquaintances despite frequent shellings, aerial bombardments and fighting in the streets. Told from the point of view of a self-described housewife, this is apparently the first detailed account by a civilian of daily life in the cockpit of the Middle East war. A sensitive and perceptive observer, Makdisi also writes of the ruthlessness of Israeli troops in '82--which will shock readers. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This eyewitness report of the still-continuing war in Beirut conveys both the moving struggle to preserve the threads of daily life and the ever-present fear and rage at the destruction of the once-lovely city. Makdisi records her determination to survive the shelling, bombing, and killing that started with civil war in 1975 and accelerated by Israeli invasion in 1982. Huddled in shelters and faced with intermittent supplies of water and electricity, Makdisi and her neighbors grew increasingly angry at the callousness of the political leaders--Lebanese, Arab, and Western--who prolonged the fighting. This well-written memoir will appeal to all who are concerned with human survival, and also to those who need to be reminded of the cost of big-power politics.-- Elizabeth R. Hayford, Associated Colls. of the Midwest, Chicago
Booknews
Both an autobiography of Makdisi--born in Jerusalem, raised in Egypt, educated in the West, and a resident of Beirut since 1972--and a biography of the city, transformed by 15 years of civil war from grandeur to ruins. Published by Persea Books, 60 Madison Avenue, New York, 10010. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892552450
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Said Makdisi is also the author of Teta, Mother, and Me: Three Generations of Arab Women. She lives in Beirut.
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Table of Contents

Chronology 11
I Prologue 17
II Crisis, with a Glossary of Terms Used in Times of Crisis 33
III Beirut: A New Topography 67
IV Mirrors, or Contradictions: A Self-Portrait 91
V Summer 1982: The Israeli Invasion 151
VI Ghosts: A Meditation on the Massacres 191
VII Remnants 205
VIII Beirut: An Alphabet 247
Afterword 254
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