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Lebanon -- Where East Meets West

By Phillip Donnelly
On turning forty the author leaves Paris and the West for Asia. En route he spends a Summer teaching English in Beirut, a city that was once a byword for civil war, terrorism and the clash between East and West. Twenty years after the war ended, there are still scarred buildings and psyches, and religious and ethnic fault lines, but the country has been reborn. Few countries have had so long and complex a history, and few so tortured a recent past, but Lebanon has emerged from it all with a beauty that belies its history and a face that beguiles all comers. It is exciting, fresh and vibrant, and tired of being branded as a Civil War nightmare.
Join the author as he tries to understand the fascinating complexities of post-war Lebanon, and how Christians and Muslims manage to live together, and to live with the factions within their own community, and to live with the Palestinians, and to live with their interfering neighbours, Israel and Syria, and to do all of this and keep a smile of their face.
At a more practical level, learn about Lebanese families and their pan-dimensional networks of cousins, the unwritten laws of the shared taxi and why a working knowledge of numerology is useful if you want to buy a SIM Card. You also learn how to get from A to B, using only hand signals, terrible French and a sunny disposition. Travel with the author out of Beirut to visit the Phoenician city state of Byblos, the Roman ruins of Baalbek, the Crusader castles of Tripoli and the mosques and souqs of the Arabs. You can even take the road to Damascus.

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