Beirut Fragments - A War Memoir

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A new edition of the widely acclaimed account of the civilian experience of fifteen years of war in Beirut- "a profound, heartbreaking book" (Los Angeles Times Book Review), "an impassioned cry against indifference" (New York Times Book Review), "a work ringing with truth and insight" (Arab Book World)-now with an Afterword about the postwar years. A New York Times Book Review Notable Book An intensely personal yet timelessly crafted portrait of life in a worn-torn city, Beirut Fragments spans the years of the civil war in Lebanon, 1975-1990. When thousands fled, Jean Said Makdisi chose to stay. She raised three sons, taught English and Humanities at Beirut University College-and she wrote. She records the breakdown of society and the physical destruction of Beirut, the massacres of Sabra and Shatila, the Israeli Invasion, everyday acts of terrorism, the struggle to maintain ordinary routines amid chaos, and the incredible spirit of a people. A Palestinian, a Christian, a woman who has lived in Jerusalem, Cairo, the United States, and Beirut, Jean Said Makdisi uses the migrations of her own life as a paradigm which helps elucidate many of the conflicts in the region. The new afterword covers the postwars years, from the last ceasefire to the present day.

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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
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 (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892552450
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 260
  • Sales rank: 1,209,375
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Said Makdisi was born in Jerusalem and studied in Cairo and the United States. She is the author of Beirut Fragments: A War Memoir, a New York Times Notable Book. 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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