Synopses & Reviews
For thirty years, Hezbollah has played a pivotal role in Lebanese and global politics. That visibility has invited Hezbollah's lionization and vilification by outside observers, and at the same time has prevented a clear-eyed view of Hezbollah's place in the history of the Middle East and its future course of action. Dominique Avon and Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian provide here a nonpartisan account which offers insights into Hezbollah that Western media have missed or misunderstood.
Now part of the Lebanese government, Hezbollah nevertheless remains in tension with both the transnational Shiite community and a religiously diverse Lebanon. Calling for an Islamic regime would risk losing critical allies at home, but at the same time Hezbollah's leaders cannot say that a liberal regime is the solution for the future. Consequently, they use the ambiguous expression "civil but believer state."
What happens when an organization founded as a voice of "revolution" and then "resistance" occupies a position of power, yet witnesses the collapse of its close ally, Syria? How will Hezbollah's voice evolve as the party struggles to reconcile its regional obligations with its religious beliefs? The authors' analyses of these key questions--buttressed by their clear English translations of foundational documents, including Hezbollah's open letter of 1985 and its 2009 charter, and an in-depth glossary of key theological and political terms used by the party's leaders--make Hezbollah an invaluable resource for all readers interested in the future of this volatile force.
"Avon and Khatchadourian, respectively a historian and a graduate student at France's UniversitÃ© du Maine, attempt to dispel some of the mystique surrounding the famously secretive Hezbollah a staunch ally of Iran and the most powerful political force in Lebanon whose ability to confront Israel has helped it ' in Lebanese society... a reputation synonymous with pride.' (The U.S. and several other countries consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.) The authors trace the militant Shiite Hezbollah's origins to the Lebanese civil war and the overthrow of the Shah in Iran. In drily academic, sometimes telegraphic language, the first three chapters focus more on the political machinations that brought Hezbollah to power than on the group's social programs, military tactics, or radical theology. Originally published in 2010, the book touches scantily on events since the assassination of the group's leader, Rafic Hariri, and the authors rely too heavily on Hezbollah's rhetoric to explain its motives and actions. The book's second half consists of translations of various Hezbollah documents. In the end, not enough background information is provided for the general reader, while the specialist will find nothing new. (Sept.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Though the book was written before the outbreak of violence in Syria--and thus prior to Hezbollah's demise as the hero of the Arabs--it provides important insight into the paradox of Hezbollah's ideology and the crux of the party's current predicament...[The] book lays the ground for understanding Hezbollah's fall from Arab grace and current events in the Levant. Samuel Helfont
It serves well as a handbook to the Hezbollah movement...The inclusion of fascinating historical documents and useful reference information make the book helpful for students seeking to understand the movement. New Republic online
Hezbollah's revolutionary role in global politics has invited lionization and vilification, rather than a clear-eyed view of its place in history. Now that the party is in power, how will Hezbollah reconcile its regional obligations with its religious beliefs? This nonpartisan account offers insights that Western media have missed or misunderstood.
About the Author
Dominique Avon is Professor of Modern History at the Université du Maine, France.Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian is a doctoral candidate at the Université du Maine, France.
Universite du Maine (France