counter create hit Hezbollah: A Short History - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Hezbollah: A Short History

Availability: Ready to download

Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong. Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization--nor is it likely to disappear soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group--which combines the functions of a militia, a social service and public works provider, and a political party--is more popular than ever in the M Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong. Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization--nor is it likely to disappear soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group--which combines the functions of a militia, a social service and public works provider, and a political party--is more popular than ever in the Middle East while retaining its strong base of support in Lebanon. And Hezbollah didn't merely confront Israel and withstand its military onslaught. Hezbollah's postwar reconstruction efforts were judged better than the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina--not by al-Jazeera, but by an American TV journalist. In Hezbollah, one of the world's leading experts on Hezbollah has written the essential guide to understanding the complexities and paradoxes of a group that remains entrenched at the heart of Middle East politics. With unmatched clarity and authority, Augustus Richard Norton tells how Hezbollah developed, how it has evolved, and what direction it might take in the future. Far from being a one-dimensional terrorist group, Norton explains, Hezbollah is a "janus-faced" organization in the middle of an incomplete metamorphosis from extremism to mundane politics, an evolution whose outcome is far from certain. Beginning as a terrorist cat's-paw of Iran, Hezbollah has since transformed itself into an impressive political party with an admiring Lebanese constituency, but it has also insisted on maintaining the potent militia that forced Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 after almost two decades of occupation. The most accessible, informed, and balanced analysis of the group yet written, Hezbollah is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Middle East.


Compare
Ads Banner

Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong. Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization--nor is it likely to disappear soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group--which combines the functions of a militia, a social service and public works provider, and a political party--is more popular than ever in the M Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong. Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization--nor is it likely to disappear soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group--which combines the functions of a militia, a social service and public works provider, and a political party--is more popular than ever in the Middle East while retaining its strong base of support in Lebanon. And Hezbollah didn't merely confront Israel and withstand its military onslaught. Hezbollah's postwar reconstruction efforts were judged better than the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina--not by al-Jazeera, but by an American TV journalist. In Hezbollah, one of the world's leading experts on Hezbollah has written the essential guide to understanding the complexities and paradoxes of a group that remains entrenched at the heart of Middle East politics. With unmatched clarity and authority, Augustus Richard Norton tells how Hezbollah developed, how it has evolved, and what direction it might take in the future. Far from being a one-dimensional terrorist group, Norton explains, Hezbollah is a "janus-faced" organization in the middle of an incomplete metamorphosis from extremism to mundane politics, an evolution whose outcome is far from certain. Beginning as a terrorist cat's-paw of Iran, Hezbollah has since transformed itself into an impressive political party with an admiring Lebanese constituency, but it has also insisted on maintaining the potent militia that forced Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 after almost two decades of occupation. The most accessible, informed, and balanced analysis of the group yet written, Hezbollah is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Middle East.

30 review for Hezbollah: A Short History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Noor

    Lebanese politics is in one convoluted pickle. While relatively concise, this book contextualises the historical backdrop with an appropriate level of detail. For a topic so vast, Norton breaks down the Lebanese political sphere into digestible chapters, starting before the civil war and culminating with the events following the Lebanon-Israel war of 2006. Published in 2007, many additional turning points have occurred that might make this book seem outdated; nonetheless, the most recent edition Lebanese politics is in one convoluted pickle. While relatively concise, this book contextualises the historical backdrop with an appropriate level of detail. For a topic so vast, Norton breaks down the Lebanese political sphere into digestible chapters, starting before the civil war and culminating with the events following the Lebanon-Israel war of 2006. Published in 2007, many additional turning points have occurred that might make this book seem outdated; nonetheless, the most recent edition, released in 2014, contains an updated preface and afterword that fills in some remaining gaps of recent history. Lebanon's multifaceted community, even within individual sects, is well-depicted, allowing for the dissipation of stigma from those who wish to paint each of Lebanon's sects as monolithic. That Amal and Hezbollah, now allied, used to be at war with one another, or the capricious politician Walid Jumblatt (who allies himself with accordance to the political tide), are some listed examples that demonstrate this. Norton documents the rise of the influence of Shia in Lebanon, who, prior to the civil war, were a mostly impoverished and sidelined community. The emergence of Hezbollah in 1982 is explained as resulting from a void in the social fabric that Amal failed to fill. Hezbollah transformed from a grassroots resistance paramilitary that initially rebuffed the political system, to a dominating force in Lebanese Parliament. Hezbollah's influence in Lebanese government is not to be undermined; in fact, they have been able to operate with relative impunity. For example, the author illustrates how, through nuanced semantics, they have gotten away with refusing to disarm their military wing, as per the demands of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias to disband. They have also thwarted all attempts to bring those culpable of the Rafik Al-Hariri assassination to justice, most likely due to strong links that associate them with the attack. They influence their agendas through their power over a third of ministers in parliament. For example, in 2009, this third of ministers resigned over a UN tribunal investigating the perpetrators of the Rafik Al-Hariri murder, causing Lebanese Parliament to collapse and essentially usurping the rule of the then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri (son of the aforementioned). Elsewhere, Norton does well to dispel the simplistic and reductionist diatribe often offered by Hezbollah's most ardent critics. He shows that, while Hezbollah may be a terrorist organisation, it is often not for the reasons stated by Israel and the USA, and that it is political allegiances that drives its actions more-so than any theocratic beliefs. At the same time, he also delves into the social and historical context which allowed for Hezbollah to gain such deference, particularly amongst the Shia community in Lebanon. Thus, I found it to be a balanced account. The afterword brings to our attention one of the most pressing issues that Hezbollah faces today: the ramifications of its military involvement in the Syrian war from as early as 2012. This intervention, in fact, has been a seminal cause for the loss of much of Hezbollah's credibility within the Arab world over the past few years. Once revered as group that stood up to Israel and caused its withdrawal from occupied Lebanon in the year 2000, Hezbollah is now viewed with much suspicion, owing to its strong ties with Iran and the Assad regime in Syria. While retaining a relative bastion of support in southern Lebanon and in the dahiyah, even Lebanese Shia are growing wearisome of Hezbollah's reckless endeavours in Syria, which have caused the deaths of hundreds of its fighters, in addition to fomenting sectarianism on both sides of the conflict, and ultimately spilling the carnage onto Lebanese soil. Hezbollah may very well have sown the seeds for its own destruction through allowing itself to become a pawn and play into the regional and sectarian interests of its allies. The next few years will be critical.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Moran

    The book was informative, but the author's narrative was a bit hard to follow at times and, more importantly, boring. The author's style is reminiscent of Wikipedia -- there's a lot of information in each chapter and it's delivered in a matter-of-fact style. Unfortunately, it lacks the connectivity and immediacy of Wikipedia, which means that the information is now stagnant. With the advent of Wikipedia, I think authors of these styles of books would do well to add some more personality and narra The book was informative, but the author's narrative was a bit hard to follow at times and, more importantly, boring. The author's style is reminiscent of Wikipedia -- there's a lot of information in each chapter and it's delivered in a matter-of-fact style. Unfortunately, it lacks the connectivity and immediacy of Wikipedia, which means that the information is now stagnant. With the advent of Wikipedia, I think authors of these styles of books would do well to add some more personality and narrative to their writing. Even in developments that are linked to the author's exchanges with individuals, the author can't help but remove any semblance of personality from the exchange (a typical phrase would read, "per this author's personal exchange with..."). In terms of the narrative, the main thing that sticks out throughout the book is that Hezbollah's history is very much intertwined with the history of Lebanon. For someone to attempt to stuff the history of such a diverse country into 170 pages is tough. Per the author's own admission in the Additional Reading portion of the book: "Lebanon is a complex country that observers too quickly try to reduce to Christian-Muslim or sectarian labels, as though Lebanese fit into neat cultural boxes." Fortunately, the author avoids falling into the trap of over-simplifying the country's history and people, but fails at adequately explaining the complexity of the country, thus leading to some points of confusion. All in all, I think my time would have been better spent reading the history of Hezbollah on Wikipedia.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wissam Raji

    The book describes the evolution of Hezbollah since its establishment. It gives a historic background of the Shiites in Lebanon and how social and political factors led to the rise of Imam Mousa Sader and the initiation of Harakat al Mahroumeen and how the Iranian influence after the revolution was able to produce Hezbollah which started as a military ideological organization and then evolved after 2000 to a political organization besides keeping its military power. The book can be classified as The book describes the evolution of Hezbollah since its establishment. It gives a historic background of the Shiites in Lebanon and how social and political factors led to the rise of Imam Mousa Sader and the initiation of Harakat al Mahroumeen and how the Iranian influence after the revolution was able to produce Hezbollah which started as a military ideological organization and then evolved after 2000 to a political organization besides keeping its military power. The book can be classified as a reference book of political history where the author avoids any political analysis and avoids undocumented assumptions.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leo Africanus

    A well informed 'behind the scenes' analysis of an oft misunderstood organisation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    I enjoyed this book as a good introduction to Hezbollah. Needless to say, the western propaganda and flat out lies about the group have colored my perceptions a bit and this book did a phenomenal job of objectively describing the aims, means, ambitions, and overall ideology of the group. It did reference a lot of things I didn't know/had never heard of and sort of presupposed a basic knowledge of the politics of Lebanon which this dumb American apparently did not have.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brett C

    With Hezbollah's entry into the Lebanese government in 2009 and recent forceful intervention in the Syrian civil war, the potent Shi‘i political and military organization continues to play an enormous role in the Middle East. Policymakers in the United States and Israel usually denounce it as a dangerous terrorist group and refuse to engage with it, yet even its adversaries need to contend with its durability and resilient popular support. Although Hezbollah’s popularity has declined in many qua With Hezbollah's entry into the Lebanese government in 2009 and recent forceful intervention in the Syrian civil war, the potent Shi‘i political and military organization continues to play an enormous role in the Middle East. Policymakers in the United States and Israel usually denounce it as a dangerous terrorist group and refuse to engage with it, yet even its adversaries need to contend with its durability and resilient popular support. Although Hezbollah’s popularity has declined in many quarters of the Arab world, the Shi‘i group―a hybrid of militia, political party, and social services and public works provider―remains the most powerful player in Lebanon.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Belair

    A very interesting read. I'll have to read it again to get all the info straight it's that good and complex !!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stanley Xue

    A short snapshot of Hezbollah in Lebanon - a history that I've had almost no exposure to. Shi'a/Shi'i Muslims comprise 10% out of all Muslims in the world (the second largest sect of Muslims behind the Sunnis). In Lebanon, Shi'a Muslims predominanly inhabit the areas surrounding Beirut (its capital), southern Lebanon (which borders Israel), and the north-eastern Beqqa valley. Politically margalinsed relative to their fellow Sunni and Christian citizens, support for Shi'a political/milita groups A short snapshot of Hezbollah in Lebanon - a history that I've had almost no exposure to. Shi'a/Shi'i Muslims comprise 10% out of all Muslims in the world (the second largest sect of Muslims behind the Sunnis). In Lebanon, Shi'a Muslims predominanly inhabit the areas surrounding Beirut (its capital), southern Lebanon (which borders Israel), and the north-eastern Beqqa valley. Politically margalinsed relative to their fellow Sunni and Christian citizens, support for Shi'a political/milita groups has grown since the 1960s - on the backdrop of Palestinian insurgencies in southern Lebanon and repeated conflicts with Israel. Hezbollah (recognised as a terrorist organisation by the US, EU, and Israel) represents one of these militias - inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran (and thus supported by Iran) and initially feverently against involvement in 'corrupt national politics'. Occupation of southern Lebanon by Israel from the 1980s to 2000 and later a 34-day war that bubbled out of renewed escalations in tensions seemed to further bolster support for Hezbollah - with both sides responsible for escalations and numerous civilian casulties (e.g. kidnapping and deaths of foreign nationals, suicide bombings and assassinations, targeting civilian population with bombs). Since then, Hezbollah has turned on its initial rejection of the political process, becoming politically active and legitimising themselves - holding around 10-15% of seats in Lebanese government. Hezbollah has cemented support with many social welfare and charity programs supporting their Shi'a Muslim constituents. Norton reveals the power that Syria and Iran (both Shi'a countries) has had on Hezbollah and the political developments in Lebanon. Norton provides a intruiging account of the challenges facing a sectarian society and political system (where Hezbollah (as of publication more than a decade ago) wishes to govern on consensus - rejecting the opposition's attempts to open a tribunal to Syrian influence in the government and the formal prime minister's assassination). Lebanon is a country that has endured many wars and struggles for power between forces - many which are proxies for regional and global powers (e.g. Iran, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations, Israel, United States, and the Soviet Union). Published in 2007 (more than a decade ago). It would be interesting to see Norton's analysis on what has happened to the region since then - the Arab Springs, the Syrian War, and rise and fall of ISIS.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mr.

    Richard Norton has chronicled the origins and development of the Lebanese resistance party Hezbollah, which rose to prominence as one of the major political players during Israel's occupation of Lebanon during the 1980's. This account benefits from Norton's background in anthropology which enables him to analyze the cultural and ethnic complexity of Lebanon in his discussion. However, his historical background on the political history of Lebanon is somewhat meandering and also slim. At the same Richard Norton has chronicled the origins and development of the Lebanese resistance party Hezbollah, which rose to prominence as one of the major political players during Israel's occupation of Lebanon during the 1980's. This account benefits from Norton's background in anthropology which enables him to analyze the cultural and ethnic complexity of Lebanon in his discussion. However, his historical background on the political history of Lebanon is somewhat meandering and also slim. At the same time, this book clears up some misconceptions about Hezbollah. The first of which is that Hezbollah should be regarded as a terrorist group with similar aims of other Islamic fundamentalists organizations like the Taliban and Islamic Jihad. Hezbollah is primarily a defensive organization, and it developed largely in response to Israel's aggression in Southern Lebanon. Norton also points out that the Western belief that Hezbollah was responsible for the death of over 30 U.S. Marines is false, and that that particular atrocity is probably the work of Shi militant agents working for Iran. However, Norton also clears up the misconception that Hezbollah is a "freedom-fighting" organization, and that it's tactics are legal, and that its aims are accomodationist and pluralistic. Hezbollah remains an Islamic theocratic party committed to the destruction of Israel, and it has often chosen poor military tactics with regard to Israel's borders. This is a worthwhile, though incomplete account of a rising political force in the Middle East.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    A concise history of Hezbollah from its emergence in Lebanon in the mid '80's through the aftermath of its 2006 conflict with Israel. This book is valuable for the detailed information it provides on the organization - for the many character studies of Hezbollah's leaders, past and present - for the detailed analysis of its political evolution, its changing philosophy and goals - and especially for its description of the major impact this organization has had on the social and political life of A concise history of Hezbollah from its emergence in Lebanon in the mid '80's through the aftermath of its 2006 conflict with Israel. This book is valuable for the detailed information it provides on the organization - for the many character studies of Hezbollah's leaders, past and present - for the detailed analysis of its political evolution, its changing philosophy and goals - and especially for its description of the major impact this organization has had on the social and political life of Lebanon. In fact, the book can be viewed as a succinct history of Lebanon during this period. The author gives a lucid exposition of that country's multi-confessional society and government - illuminates the chaotic events of those years - the "Cedar Revolution", Syria's involvement in assassinations, the rivalry between Amal and Hezbollah - clarifies these incidents, makes them understandable. His analysis is a powerful corrective to the usually Israeli-sympathetic, one-sided view of Lebanon and its people. Norton is refreshingly objective; his analysis of Hezbollah, non-judgmental. Rather than the stereotypical characterization of it as a "terrorist group sponsored by Iran", he provides a realistic assessment of its strengths and weaknesses, detailing those aspects that make it so attractive to many people in the mideast, as well as the qualities that inspire fear and loathing in others. Norton provides the information necessary to understand Hezbollah, information necessary to respond to it effectively.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Having started reading ‘Hezbollah: a short history’ almost entirely ignorant about not just Hezbollah but Lebanon as a whole, I do feel like I’ve come out better informed. The book is decently written -although the number of names and locations thrown at the reader made me have to skip back a few times - and gives a broad perspective of Lebanese politics, where Hezbollah fits into them, and (perhaps most importantly, an aspect you might not consider if coming from a place of ignorance): the Syri Having started reading ‘Hezbollah: a short history’ almost entirely ignorant about not just Hezbollah but Lebanon as a whole, I do feel like I’ve come out better informed. The book is decently written -although the number of names and locations thrown at the reader made me have to skip back a few times - and gives a broad perspective of Lebanese politics, where Hezbollah fits into them, and (perhaps most importantly, an aspect you might not consider if coming from a place of ignorance): the Syrian-Lebanese relationship. I’ve never really believed in the claim that the violence which occurs between religious militias like Hezbollah and the state (or other, opposing groups) is due to differences in dogma. People do not send thousands of troops to fight in other countries purely because they have a marginally different interpretation of scripture - judging by the sheer diversity of belief within any given religion (the contrast between the Christian left-wing Liberation theology and the far-right Dominion theology is an example a bring up a lot, which exemplifies this), there’s clearly more than enough room within scripture to accommodate virtually everyone. It seems almost hackneyed to suggest that the real motivator is power, which can subsequently add a religious character to what otherwise might be a conflict between two power bases: so, for example, we might construct a parallel between Sunni-Shia sectarianism and the sectarianism which existed in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. In this sense, The Troubles weren’t caused by differences in Catholic and Protestant doctrine- but it’s worth remembering that it would be foolish to suggest that religious differences, as a result, are totally meaningless. Thus, also, to Hezbollah, which holds Shi’ism neither as a meaningless facade to which it pays only lip service, nor the only core of its being. The author, Augustus Norton - a professor of international relations and former military observer in the region - appears to posit that Hezbollah exists mostly as a vehicle for Iranian and Syrian ambition more than anything else (the former as a means to export their Islamic Revolution; the latter to maintain relations with Iran, indirectly strike at Israel, and keep Lebanese politics, including the Shi’a reformist Amal movement, in check). The group’s religious beliefs are driven by their commitment to the ayatollah, putting them at odds not only with the non-Shia parts of Lebanon, but even with those Shia communities who practice rituals that the groups considers deviant, such as self-flagellation during ‘Ashura. Realistically, the mutual hatred between the group and Saudi Arabia is caused not solely by sectarianism, but as a proxy to the hatred between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Similarly, religion doesn’t get in between their positive relations with majority-Sunni Syria - which is, in turn, ruled by an Alawite family. Having said this, a secular Hezbollah would still be a very different beast: it is ultimately their religious beliefs which they use to appeal to the Shia communities of Lebanon. Indeed, it appears that the religious differences which might put Hezbollah at odds with most of the rest of the Arab world have only recently become salient again - as they send militants into Syria to fight alongside the brutal Assad regime. Before this point, it seems like much of the Arab world viewed them favourably for their part fighting against Israel - first in 2000 during the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon and then in 2006 during the Lebanon War, it appears that the group is not only intensely efficient, but also well organised and highly effective to the extent that they are often seen being able to stand toe-to-toe with the IDF. In all, we’ve seen that Hezbollah’s perceived legitimacy in the region (which has lead it to become part of several Lebanese governments), particularly in South Lebanon, seems to mostly seem to stem from its perception as a bulwark against Israel. What’s less clear is how this fits more broadly into Lebanese politics - the group seems to be happy to invoke some level of Lebanese nationalism, but at the same time their relations with Iran and Syria obviously cannot be ignored. The March 8 alliance, a pro-Syrian coalition of which Hezbollah is a member, is supposedly named after the date of a ‘thank you, Syria’ rally, held in 2005, shortly after Syria had assassinated the ruling Lebanese prime minister; the Assad family have also been implicated in multiple other assassinations against political opponents in Lebanon. Not only is it unusual to be happy to use such nationalistic rhetoric while another country appears to have a direct (and obvious) hand in the running of Lebanon, it makes Hezbollah’s ultimate aims for the country unclear. Their dual loyalty to both Iran and Syria are not cast-iron; as the (paraphrased) quote by Lord Palmerston mentions, ‘Syria has neither eternal allies nor perpetual enemies’. What would happen to the group should those two countries ever fall out is unclear. With all this said, it seems emphatically clear that Hezbollah are not simply misunderstood freedom fighters, but very much fit the figure of ‘terrorists’ - the 1985 skyjacking, the bombing of a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in 2012, the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina, and their kidnapping and torture efforts, demonstrates several occasions where their viciousness has been turned against civilian targets - quite a distance from the freedom fighter mythos they attempt to construct around themselves. Recommended for anyone with very little knowledge of Hezbollah and Lebanese politics who would like an accessible introduction to the region.

  12. 5 out of 5

    University of Chicago Magazine

    Augustus Richard Norton, PhD'84 Author From the author: "Drawing on extensive fieldwork and more that three decades of work on the Shi'i community of Lebanon, this volume offers an authoritative introduction to the history, culture, politics, strategy and dilemmas of Hezbollah, the Iran-supported party and military force which plays a dominant role in Lebanon while also confronting Israel and striving to thwart U.S. and western influence in large swaths of the Middle East. This edition, published Augustus Richard Norton, PhD'84 Author From the author: "Drawing on extensive fieldwork and more that three decades of work on the Shi'i community of Lebanon, this volume offers an authoritative introduction to the history, culture, politics, strategy and dilemmas of Hezbollah, the Iran-supported party and military force which plays a dominant role in Lebanon while also confronting Israel and striving to thwart U.S. and western influence in large swaths of the Middle East. This edition, published in 2014, extensively expands the original 2007 edition."

  13. 4 out of 5

    James

    A balanced and often nuanced examination of Lebanese political, sectarian, and international affairs that gave rise and support to Hezbollah first as a resistance organization and eventually as a viable political party. Like most things in Lebanon, surety of support domestically is a fluid thing and depends on how well the organization manages to walk the precipices that comprise the regional conflicts (Israel, Syria/Iraq), the rising sectarian tensions that underscore those conflicts, and the c A balanced and often nuanced examination of Lebanese political, sectarian, and international affairs that gave rise and support to Hezbollah first as a resistance organization and eventually as a viable political party. Like most things in Lebanon, surety of support domestically is a fluid thing and depends on how well the organization manages to walk the precipices that comprise the regional conflicts (Israel, Syria/Iraq), the rising sectarian tensions that underscore those conflicts, and the capricious involvements of regional and non-regional powers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Josepha

    Very well written and captivating introduction to Hezbollah and the complex political and demographic landscape of Lebanon. Balanced, detailed, factual and objective. The author doesn't jump on the terrorist bandwagon and manages to explain clearly what kind of organization Hezbollah really is.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Grainger

    Incoherent and superficial. Lacking narrative or argument. Random information basically flung on the page. I learned a few things, but it was wrested from a sea of uninformative generalising mixed with uninformative detail.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    A great summation of the confusing and difficult political quagmire that is Lebanon. Also, a great piece of history in the author's conclusion as he does a tour of Mubarak in Egypt, the society of Muslim brothers, al-Assad in Syria, and more.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    People say it's sort of polemical, which is true, but I think it makes a good point about the way the US dismisses Hizb Allah as a monolithic organization for terrorism.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Farless

    This is a pretty good overview of the Hezbollah and the major turning points in the group's evolution. The afterword, which adds a bit to the narrative, is current up to August 2008.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Harold Citron

    It was OK. The book lives up to its subtitle; 'a short history' of the Lebanese terrorist group. This is indeed, a history book, recounting people and dates within the Lebanese Shi'a community, both religious and political, as well as the broader international Shi'a religious and political community. Of significant interest is chapter 2, the rise of Hizballah, notably the group's cross pollinating from the seminaries of Iraq, and more critically, the 1979 Iranian revolution by the Ayatollah Kho It was OK. The book lives up to its subtitle; 'a short history' of the Lebanese terrorist group. This is indeed, a history book, recounting people and dates within the Lebanese Shi'a community, both religious and political, as well as the broader international Shi'a religious and political community. Of significant interest is chapter 2, the rise of Hizballah, notably the group's cross pollinating from the seminaries of Iraq, and more critically, the 1979 Iranian revolution by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Hizballah's 1985 religious / political manifesto reads very similar in tone and topic to the ideology found in the Muslim Brotherhood's Sayyid Qutb. Additionally, the revolutionary zeal, refusing all compromise and cooperation with those not holding the same ideology highlights the real concern of the group. Several of the author's points are found wanting. Most of the cause and effect of Hizballah's view is superficial. Much of the blame is placed on Israel and its 1982 invasion. However, to accomplish this, the author pushes aside broader internal Lebanese history, including the multiple civil wars that took place during the 20th century, and the subsequent 25 year occupation by Syria. It also minimizes the intense competition for influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In addition, while Norton builds his book towards the 2006 war between Hizballah and Israel, that chapter falls flat, both in terms of content, and even more critically, analysis. Several flaws are exposed, notably, Norton's claims of equal name calling by Hizballah and Israel swapping the term of each as a cancer. What Norton misses, is his own writing from chapter 2, noting Hizballah's political extremism coupled with its use of extreme violence. One could make the same argument how Hitler's brown shirts were misunderstood and focus on the Nazi's attempts to improve the political and economic lives of Germans, while ignoring Hitler & Co's, deep and extreme dehumanizing of minorities, including Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and homosexuals as well as the disabled (both physically and mentally). Hizballah's demand that all fall under the banner of the rule of political Islam, especially in the vein of Iran's mujtahids coupled with its call for the eradication of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants would garner closer observation and critique rather than a he said / he said, argument. Since I read the fist edition, the version misses out on many post 2006 critical factors - notably the 2008 intra-Lebanese fight over attempting to rein in Hizballah, and of course, the group's participation in the larger and bloodier Syrian civil war. Within Lebanon, Hizballah's lock on power has led to political gridlock that has resulted in a breakdown in basic services, including garbage collection (a long-running story in 2017 / 2018). One other critical discussion that should be addressed, is the absence of any question of peace between Israel and Hizballah. It is nearly 20 years since Israel unilaterally left Lebanon. Yet, rather than looking for ways to create a calm and peaceful border, dare one say, with cross-border economic benefits, we see Hizballah continuing to push military adventurism, growing its military capacity, especially in ground-to-ground missiles, likely leading to another war between the organization and Israel. With Iran looking to extend its influence, and look for additional borders to launch attacks against Israel, this issue has growing significance.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aylin Alpustun

    I read the 2007 version of Hezbollah. The book is no doubt very rich in content, however I had trouble following the "train of thought". It jumped between events, the many many political and religious characters and between countries of the region. For me it just did not "flow", maybe because the craftsmanship was too scholarly. I will give it five for content but a poorer mark for "readability" The book gives great insight into how complex Lebanon is as a country which cannot be reduced to Christia I read the 2007 version of Hezbollah. The book is no doubt very rich in content, however I had trouble following the "train of thought". It jumped between events, the many many political and religious characters and between countries of the region. For me it just did not "flow", maybe because the craftsmanship was too scholarly. I will give it five for content but a poorer mark for "readability" The book gives great insight into how complex Lebanon is as a country which cannot be reduced to Christian vs Muslim labels. It digs into all the many different sects which play a major role in the politics of the region; the main players of the Shi'a party,Hezbollah, the never ending crisis; the invasions; the nonsense assassinations; the deadlocks; the neighbours' stakes which extend well beyond security; the networks of corruption, smuggling and crime. I believe the main theme is that Lebanon is a diverse, multicultural society. And it is precisely this diversity which defines its unique appeal and character. Whether there will ever be peace in that area...with so many sects, countries with myriad stakes...I just hope there will be.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jason P

    Interesting, but brief history of hezbollah. The book does however do a good job distinguishing hezbollah from other Islamist groups in the Middle East in how it has entered in legitimate politics in Lebanon as well. It also accurately refutes such arguments it's exclusively a proxy party for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite heavy influence from Iran it does possess its own autonomy. It also explains why hezbollah has support in Lebanon which isn't just because they're a bunch of crazed Isl Interesting, but brief history of hezbollah. The book does however do a good job distinguishing hezbollah from other Islamist groups in the Middle East in how it has entered in legitimate politics in Lebanon as well. It also accurately refutes such arguments it's exclusively a proxy party for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite heavy influence from Iran it does possess its own autonomy. It also explains why hezbollah has support in Lebanon which isn't just because they're a bunch of crazed Islamic ideologues, but rather hezbollah does provide many social services as well as being one of a few legitimate sources of protection from Imperialist Invaders such as Israel. Now, don't get me wrong. Hezbollah is still absolutely a Fascist Islamist party with an inherently anti-semetic and horrible ideology. That being said, there is still some use in distinguishing them from the unanimously barbaric groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Not bad I guess? I haven't read much about Lebanese politics that I could compare with... I guess my only gripe would be that I didn't really come away with an understanding of what divides Amal and Hezbollah supporters? The way this book puts it almost seems random, like different villages just pick one (maybe that's actually the case, but I'm still confused lol)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    A solid, comprehensive work on Hezbollah’s roots and its manoeuvring in Lebanese society. Here and there are hidden gems on local Shia culture, beliefs, ideas, which would be valuable for those interested in Hezbollah’s support base.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

    Found a heavily annotated copy of this in a used bookstore. For such a short book it is dense with information. Its a great introduction to modern Lebanese politics and history. I wish I had a more recent edition of this book so that I could get the most current information out of it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Informative but a tad dry in places

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    surprisingly reasonable and evenhanded for a guy with a name like that

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tony Gualtieri

    As good a history of post-civil war Lebanon as exists in English.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mr.

    My first jump into the Hezbollah's story. Very solid and interesting book which describes perplexed question of Lebanon's modern history and Shia's community in it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    In the highly readable book, Hezbollah, Richard Norton recounts the history of the Lebanese Shi’a organization Hezbollah. According to Norton, the figure that initially catalyzed Lebanon’s downtrodden Shi’a was Imam Musa al-Sadr, the Iranian born cleric of Lebanese ancestry who came to Lebanon in the late 1950s. He urged his followers not to accept as fate their poverty and disenfranchisement. Hezbollah was launched in 1982—after Israel had invaded to thwart armed Palestinian groups from infiltrat In the highly readable book, Hezbollah, Richard Norton recounts the history of the Lebanese Shi’a organization Hezbollah. According to Norton, the figure that initially catalyzed Lebanon’s downtrodden Shi’a was Imam Musa al-Sadr, the Iranian born cleric of Lebanese ancestry who came to Lebanon in the late 1950s. He urged his followers not to accept as fate their poverty and disenfranchisement. Hezbollah was launched in 1982—after Israel had invaded to thwart armed Palestinian groups from infiltrating its northern border. Shi’a revolutionaries, who were seeking to emulate Iran’s recent Islamic revolution, and to fight Israeli occupation, launched the organization. Hezbollah would have been founded with or without the Israeli invasion, Norton argues, but the invasion did push the movement forward. The group, says Norton, is not your average terrorist group. It’s use of suicide bombers, for example, has largely been restricted to Southern Lebanon and used against Israeli soldiers (although the author does acknowledge exceptions—like terrorist attacks in Argentina). The group also provides social services—and not just for Shi’a. They sponsor construction companies, schools, hospitals, micro-finance initiatives, etc. They also participate in the Lebanese government. By the 1990s the group was responsible for most of the attacks on Israeli troops, attacks that exhibited careful planning and professionalism. Hezbollah portrays itself as a force that resists the actions of Israel and the world’s superpowers. One of their ultimate objectives, according to their famed 1985 letter, is to destroy Israel. Some commentators think Hezbollah has now moved away from that goal, however the fact is they have never publicly rescinded that goal—whether verbally or in writing. The Lebanese civil war finally petered out with the signing of the Ta’if Accord, which stipulated that all militias disarm. All did so, except for Hezbollah (who only signed the agreement after Iran “gave its blessing”). The group claimed they were not a “militia,” but an “Islamic Resistance” group—although it’s not clear what the real-world distinction is. During the 1990s Hezbollah and Israel eventually established a modus vivendi according to certain “rules of the game.” Israel wouldn’t attack civilian targets in southern Lebanon and Hezbollah would focus its actions within the Security Zone. After Israel withdrew in May 2000, Hezbollah was faced with a dilemma. Should they turn inward and focus on Lebanese politics and corruption? Or should they continue their violent activities, both within Lebanon and the region (i.e. Israel). According to Norton, the answer is clear. The organization chose the latter. They used the “clever pretext” of Shebaa Farms to continue their fight with Israel. Today Hezbollah views itself as deterring Israel from re-invading Lebanon. In May 2006 tensions began to heat up along the Israeli border, which led to the war that summer. Norton did not cast either side as the victor—perhaps because neither side accomplished their objectives, perhaps because it is too soon to declare who really won. I enjoyed the book, but I think Norton romanticized Hezbollah somewhat and portrayed them as perpetual victims, and Israel as the perpetual aggressor. In describing the “rules of the game” the author seemed to imply Israel was purposefully killing civilians. But from 1982 to 2000, 500 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians were killed in southern Lebanon, according to Norton. With Israel’s heavy and sophisticated weaponry (and when compared to other wars), the death toll would have most likely been much higher had Israel really been targeting civilians. Norton also barely mentions the indiscriminate rocket fire reigning down on northern Israel prior to the Grapes of Wrath campaign. He also seems to underplay Iran’s hand in the organization. He does well to call the shebaa farms issue what it is, a pretext. But fails to drive home the point that Hezbollah is not only a threat to Israel, but to Lebanon, as well. To paraphrase Max Weber, the state is the institution that has a monopoly on the legitimate use violence. That Hezbollah remains armed (and not just with small arms and the like, but with guided missiles), means that it is a threat to the Lebanese government—whether it’s a part of the government or not. If Hezbollah disarmed, moreover, it would remove any rationale for Israel to re-enter the country. Finally, Norton barely mentions from where Hezbollah draws its funds, other than to say local donors and Iran. How much money from “local donors,” and how much from Iran? What about Hezbollah’s growing links to Colombian cocaine cartels and West African blood diamonds?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frank Kelly

    Norton's slim history of Hezbollah is quite fascinating. And confusing - not his fault but really due to the enormous complexity of the Shia families, parties, gangs, offshoots, etc. in Lebanon. Stunning, really, how complex the situation is there just amongst them. But several interesting take-away's: First, that the al-Sadr clan have had an outsized impact on Lebanon. Many of us know al-Sadr from the Iraqi firebrand clerical leader Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, Iraq - essentially the murderous lea Norton's slim history of Hezbollah is quite fascinating. And confusing - not his fault but really due to the enormous complexity of the Shia families, parties, gangs, offshoots, etc. in Lebanon. Stunning, really, how complex the situation is there just amongst them. But several interesting take-away's: First, that the al-Sadr clan have had an outsized impact on Lebanon. Many of us know al-Sadr from the Iraqi firebrand clerical leader Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, Iraq - essentially the murderous leader of the Shia in Iraq. His family in Lebanon were early founders of Amal - once the chief rival to Hezbollah. Second, to the first point, many if not most of the educated Lebanese Shia are educated in Iraq (not Iran). The political, familiar and even economic ties between the Lebanese Shia and Iraq were quite extraordinary. This book was published in 2007 - and when you piece together what has happened since then from other sources, you realize Iran has moved in dramatically to take over this space. Finally, you truly understand that Hezbollah is one that is quite detailed and well researched - this is a great place to start. Hezbollah is not simply a terrorist organization - one driven by theological and idealistic principles. instead, you understand they are simultaneously a giant criminal enterprise that went about to destroying Lebanon in order to take over Lebanon under the direction of and with the full-throated support of Syria's Assad and the Ayatollahs of Iran. And now they are as much a political party, social service, etc. dominating the country and trying to dominate the region. But a murderous, extorting, stealing one. If you want a good early history of this organization -

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.