The best books on Lebanon

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Lebanon and why they recommend each book.

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The Black Swan

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb,

Book cover of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Taleb’s central idea is that it is impossible to predict the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable outlier events. His corollary is that we need to focus on building resiliency vs. better prediction capabilities. This notion of creating resilient organizations is central to our book but one which I see playing out over and over again as we experience wave after wave of disruptive, and seemingly improvable, events. 


Who am I?

Responding to disruption and uncertainty has increasingly dominated my thinking. Ten years ago, while a senior partner at a global professional services firm, I sponsored a major research project on digital transformation. The most surprising finding was that the organizations that are effective in responding to disruption figure out how to learn fast and scale fast. In my encore career of university teaching, I have dived deeper into how organizations and functions (such as marketing) respond to disruption. An improbable consequences of COVID-19 is an abundance of real-time examples of how organizations cope with acute disruptions vs. the chronic disruptions resulting from new technologies. 


I wrote...

The Transformation Myth: Leading Your Organization Through Uncertain Times

By Gerald C. Kane, Rich Nanda, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan R. Copulsky

Book cover of The Transformation Myth: Leading Your Organization Through Uncertain Times

What is my book about?

When COVID-19 hit, businesses had to respond almost instantaneously—shifting employees to remote work, repairing broken supply chains, keeping pace with dramatically fluctuating customer demand. They were forced to adapt to a confluence of multiple disruptions inextricably linked to a longer-term, ongoing digital disruption. This book demonstrates that companies that use disruption as an opportunity for innovation emerge from it stronger. 

Drawing on five years of research into digital disruption, the book offers a framework for understanding disruption and tools for navigating it. The book outlines the leadership traits, business principles, technological infrastructure, and organizational building blocks essential for adapting in an era of continuous disruption.

Pity the Nation

By Robert Fisk,

Book cover of Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War

This is a devastating account of over thirty years of highly dysfunctional battles between war-mongering countries and groups that instead of healing divisions continue to tear Lebanon's different communities apart. What makes it so powerful is that it exposes the lie that wars are unleashed by complex grand forces at work. Fisk's book shows how ruthless individuals consciously start wars by inventing grievances and fomenting unrest, destroying a stunningly beautiful country, and brutalising its population.

Who am I?

In 2003 I was travelling through Baghdad with US forces to report on the Iraq war. Suddenly an ear-shattering explosion cracked through our Humvee and a rush of hot debris swept past my face. The heavily armoured door warped inwards, and the vehicle lifted off the ground. Soldiers were screaming in terror and anger, clutching at bloody faces, arms, and legs. We’d been attacked by unknown members of the Iraqi resistance. The sheer terror of that moment gave me a new understanding of war  the sight, smells, sounds, and touch of combat – and a desire to tell the stories of the young soldiers who get caught up in it.  


I wrote...

Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

By Tim Pritchard,

Book cover of Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

What is my book about?

U.S. Marines from Task Force Tarawa are caught up in one of the most unexpected battles of the Iraq War. What started off as a routine maneuver to secure two key bridges in the town of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq degenerated into a nightmarish twenty-four-hour urban clash in which eighteen young Marines lost their lives and more than thirty-five others were wounded. It was the single heaviest loss suffered by the U.S. military during the initial combat phase of the war.

Ambush Alley tells the story of the deadliest battle of the Iraq war and how a routine military operation descends into a nightmarish 24-hour urban clash that leaves 18 young marines dead and 35 others wounded.  

An Evil Cradling

By Brian Keenan,

Book cover of An Evil Cradling

This is a blow-by-blow account from one of the Beirut hostages on his experience of being kidnapped and held for four years during the Lebanon war. But it’s so much more than just a historical narrative – a poetic meditation on the evil of war, what it does to people and how the human spirit goes about surviving it. 


Who am I?

In 2003 I was travelling through Baghdad with US forces to report on the Iraq war. Suddenly an ear-shattering explosion cracked through our Humvee and a rush of hot debris swept past my face. The heavily armoured door warped inwards, and the vehicle lifted off the ground. Soldiers were screaming in terror and anger, clutching at bloody faces, arms, and legs. We’d been attacked by unknown members of the Iraqi resistance. The sheer terror of that moment gave me a new understanding of war  the sight, smells, sounds, and touch of combat – and a desire to tell the stories of the young soldiers who get caught up in it.  


I wrote...

Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

By Tim Pritchard,

Book cover of Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

What is my book about?

U.S. Marines from Task Force Tarawa are caught up in one of the most unexpected battles of the Iraq War. What started off as a routine maneuver to secure two key bridges in the town of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq degenerated into a nightmarish twenty-four-hour urban clash in which eighteen young Marines lost their lives and more than thirty-five others were wounded. It was the single heaviest loss suffered by the U.S. military during the initial combat phase of the war.

Ambush Alley tells the story of the deadliest battle of the Iraq war and how a routine military operation descends into a nightmarish 24-hour urban clash that leaves 18 young marines dead and 35 others wounded.  

Origins

By Amin Maalouf,

Book cover of Origins: A Memoir

I read Maalouf's book many years ago and it remains one of the best books I have ever read about identity. It helps that he is a gifted writer and that Maalouf's story is so compelling.


Who am I?

Steven A. Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for the Middle East and Africa studies and director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine and an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S. Middle East policy. 


I wrote...

The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square

By Steven A. Cook,

Book cover of The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square

What is my book about?

The Struggle for Egypt is a sweeping political history of Egypt that takes readers from the crystallization of Egyptian nationalism in the late 19th century up to the January 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. The book underscores that Egypt was never as stable as commonly assumed and that the demonstrations that shook Egypt a decade were consistent with a long history during which Egyptians rebelled against their leaders. This accessible text, written from a "close to the ground" perspective, provides invaluable insight into the Middle East's largest and most influential country. It is for history buffs, policy geeks, and Middle East obsessives.

The Charity of War

By Melanie S. Tanielian,

Book cover of The Charity of War: Famine, Humanitarian Aid, and World War I in the Middle East

During the war, Beirut and Mount Lebanon were heavily impacted by a famine because of several factors, including the Allied blockade of the Mediterranean, bad harvests, heat waves, shortage of workers, and a destructive locust invasion. As a result, even though the area did not witness any battles on its territory, hundreds of thousands of people died due to famine and disease. Fiction or real, the horrors reached to a degree that “mothers eating their children” stories carved in the collective memory of the war. Drawing on the reality of famine, the book deals with how war relief and welfare activities acted as forces that opened a new political space for civilian provisioning, eventually leading to the emergence of a new political space in the post-war period.

Who am I?

Studying unexplored topics has always fascinated me as a historian. Some overlooked aspects in history might shed a new light on many things that we consider obvious. I studied the Ottoman home front during the First World War from an unusual perspective by taking up the concept of moral crisis. Until very recently, talking about the First World War in the Middle East meant talking about only the European side of the story such as the famous “Lawrence of Arabia” and/or only political events that were attached to the Anglo-British rivalry. Instead, we need a “new” history of this watershed event that takes the local aspects into consideration. After all, the Great War was the most remarkable moment in the history of the Middle East which shaped its modern dynamics.


I wrote...

Moral Crisis in the Ottoman Empire: Society, Politics, and Gender During WWI

By Cigdem Oguz,

Book cover of Moral Crisis in the Ottoman Empire: Society, Politics, and Gender During WWI

What is my book about?

To what extent did a perceived morality crisis play a role in the dramatic events of the last years of the Ottoman Empire? Beginning in the late nineteenth century when some of the Ottoman elites began to question the moral climate as evidence for the losses facing the empire, this book shows that during the course of World War I many social, economic, and political problems were translated into a discourse of moral decline, ultimately making morality a contested space between rival ideologies, identities, and intellectual currents.

Examining the primary journals and printed sources that represented the various constituencies of the period, it fills important gaps in the scholarship of the Ottoman experience of World War I and the origins of Islamism and secularism in Turkey, and is essential reading for social and intellectual historians of the late Ottoman Empire.

Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen

By Julie Ann Sageer, Leah Bhabha,

Book cover of Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen: Authentic Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Mediterranean Home Cooking

The fact that the recipes in this book are authentic Mediterranean home cooking doesn’t mean they don’t stand up to almost any dinner party. Whether you’re putting on a sit-down dinner or a festive buffet, the sides, mains, and snacks from this cookbook are fresh and flavorful enough to hold their own. I add a salad, small plate recipe, side dish, or skewer from this book to many dinner parties. The recipes mix well with menu items from other flavor profiles. I love that there is a generous amount of bread recipes that are simple and approachable. They are perfect additions to any meal where you want your guests to feel at home and comfortable. 


Who am I?

I am passionate about the power of food and cooking, and how it can bring people together, allow us to explore our creativity, and nourish both body and soul. I’ve spent over 20 years creating recipes for home cooks, published in magazines, and inspiring confidence in the kitchen. Now I share my best advice, takes on traditional favorites, and the beauty of food and entertaining in cookbooks and on TaraTeaspoon.com. I encourage cooks to find cookbooks they inspire, with tested recipes, helpful tips, and beautiful pictures to entice all the senses. Trying new recipes from my cookbook list will bring joy to your cooking and entertaining.


I wrote...

Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together

By Tara Bench,

Book cover of Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together

What is my book about?

Delicious Gatherings is your invitation to step into the kitchen and create a meal worth remembering! Author Tara Bench, a.k.a. Tara Teaspoon, helps you impress guests and gather friends around your table with recipes for elevated everyday meals and special holidays, plus helpful tips and how-tos. This cookbook aims to bring joy, flair, and amazing taste to all your get-togethers. 

Tara has been in the food publishing industry for more than twenty years and is also the author of Live Life Deliciously: Recipes for Busy Weekdays and Leisurely Weekends. In Delicious Gatherings Tara shares over 120 recipes from Sunday suppers and weeknight family meals to elaborate buffets for bigger crowds and holiday celebrations, and her recipes include delicious showstoppers and unique takes on comforting classics.

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