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In this fascinating study, Carol Hakim presents a new and original narrative on the origins of the Lebanese national idea. Hakim’s study reconsiders conventional accounts that locate the origins of Lebanese nationalism in a distant legendary past and then trace its evolution in a linear and gradual manner. She argues that while some of the ideas and historical myths at the core of Lebanese nationalism appeared by the mid-nineteenth century, a coherent popular nationalist ideology and movement emerged only with the establishment of the Lebanese state in 1920. Hakim reconstructs the complex process that led to the appearance of fluid national ideals among members of the clerical and secular Lebanese elite, and follows the fluctuations and variations of these ideals up until the establishment of a Lebanese state. The book is an essential read for anyone interested in the evolution of nationalism in the Middle East and beyond.
Reviving Phoenicia follows the social, intellectual and political development of the Phoenician myth of origin in Lebanon from the middle of the nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth. Asher Kaufman demonstrates the role played by the lay, liberal Syrian-Lebanese who resided in Beirut, Alexandria and America towards the end of the nineteenth century in the birth and dissemination of this myth. Kaufman investigates the crucial place Phoenicianism occupied in the formation of Greater Lebanon in 1920. He also explores the way the Jesuit Order and the French authorities propagated this myth during the mandate years. The book also analyzes literary writings of different Lebanese who advocated this myth, and of others who opposed it. Finally, Reviving Phoenicia provides an overview of Phoenicianism from independence in 1943 to the present, demonstrating that despite the general objection to this myth, some aspects of it entered mainstream Lebanese national narratives. Kaufman's work will be vital reading for anyone interested in the birth of modern Lebanon as we know it today.