Charles Glass writes:

Kassir embodied Beirut’s variant of the polyglot Levantine ideal. The child of a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother, he was nominally a Christian and technically a foreigner in Lebanon; but he was a genuine Beiruti of the city’s last golden age: an intellectual, writer, historian, journalist, Communist, radical, firebrand, sometime exponent of American policy, explorer of meaning and archaeologist of ideas. His biography of the city of which he was a vital constituent is unlikely to be surpassed. It begins with the Palaeolithic habitation of six million years BC on the promontory later known as Beirut and ends, many transformations later, with the city’s attempted recovery from civil war and the foreign occupation of August 2003. Two years after the book’s original publication in French, those who feared Kassir’s eloquence on the subject of Beirut’s independence and its role as a free cosmopolis assassinated him as they had so many others.

(LRB 8 March 2012)

Other Titles of Interest


Samir Kassir, foreword by Robert Fisk, translated by M. B. DeBevoise

From the publisher:

Tells of the story of Beirut, a city that has stood at the ...