The most recommended books on Lebanon

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

24 authors created a book list connected to Lebanon, and here are their favorite Lebanon books.
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What type of Lebanon book?


Book cover of Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier's Story of a Forgotten War

Yossi Klein Halevi Author Of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

From my list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

In books, essays and reportage, I've been writing about Israel and the conflict since moving from the U.S. to Israel in 1982. Even as I write from within my Israeli consciousness, I have tried to understand and convey other perspectives. For Israelis and Palestinians, there is nothing abstract about this conflict; it is, instead, a matter of life and death. My writing is an attempt to simultaneously convey the passions of this conflict and offer an empathic voice for all those caught in this seemingly hopeless situation.

Yossi's book list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yossi Klein Halevi Why did Yossi love this book?

One of Israel’s finest non-fiction writers tells the story of Israel’s failed war in Lebanon – the only war Israel lost – through his own experience as a soldier. A powerful meditation on the feelings of vulnerability and loss that are built into the Israeli experience – along with the deep commitment to protecting Israel from threats that unite Israelis across the political spectrum. This is the best book I know of in  English that conveys the complex experience of being an Israeli soldier. 

By Matti Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pumpkinflowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A book about young men transformed by war, written by a veteran whose dazzling literary gifts gripped my attention from the first page to the last.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Friedman’s sober and striking new memoir . . . [is] on a par with Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried -- its Israeli analog.” —The New York Times Book Review

It was just one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples that are still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code…

Book cover of Man without a Gun: One Diplomat's Secret Struggle to Free the Hostages, Fight Terrorism, and End a War

Kenneth Dekleva Author Of The Last Violinist

From my list on hostage negotiation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect my experience as a former US government physician-diplomat, based overseas in Russia, Mexico, Europe, and South Asia, where I was involved in working closely with law enforcement and diplomatic negotiators in several highly sensitive, delicate, and dangerous hostage situations, both as a consultant and in providing medical support/care coordination to released hostages. I always found this work to be exhilarating and demanding, and it left me with the highest respect for law enforcement, diplomatic, and mental health professionals who work in this space. As a result, I’ve had additional formal training in hostage negotiation, negotiation psychology, and medical/psychological support to victims.

Kenneth's book list on hostage negotiation

Kenneth Dekleva Why did Kenneth love this book?

Picco’s book is a striking tale of his role as a UN diplomat in the 1980s and 1990s, where he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to negotiate and free numerous hostages held by Islamic terrorist groups in Lebanon. 

He describes his meetings with key Israeli, Syrian, American, and Iranian interlocutors in extremely risky, high-stakes hostage negotiations; he was thought to have been one of the few Westerners to have ever met the late Imad Mugnihyah, leader of Islamic Jihadand lived to tell the tale. 

Picco is a true hero, and the released Lebanon hostages owed their lives to his compassion, courage, unbelievable endurance, and remarkable diplomatic gifts.

By Giandomenico Picco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Man without a Gun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can an unarmed man triumph in a land of terror and violence?

Man Without a Gun is the true story of a single UN diplomat's astonishing high-wire struggle for peace in the Middle East. UN secretary-general Javier Pérez de Cuéllar called the author "more of a soldier than a diplomat." And, indeed, his life is the stuff of John le Carré thrillers. But Man Without a Gun is more than a thriller: It is a real-life voyage through the maze of the secretive Middle East, the inside account of the political maneuverings that continue to dominate today's headlines, and the…

Book cover of The Lebanese Cookbook

Edy Massih Author Of Keep It Zesty: A Celebration of Lebanese Flavors & Culture from Edy's Grocer

From my list on diverse Middle Eastern cultures and cuisines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Lebanese-born, New York-based Caterer, Chef, and Owner of Edy’s Grocer in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Born and raised in Lebanon, I have a passion for Middle Eastern food, culture, and, cookbooks. Growing up with a grandmother who never wrote one recipe down, it's been a journey to nail each recipe she used to make. When I moved to America, it was so hard to find good Middle Eastern cookbooks. Fast forward to 2024, a plethora of talented chefs have written books to help transport me back to Lebanon, sharing our Middle Eastern cultures, flavors, and heritage in such a beautiful way. I am proud of these cookbooks representing the Middle East.

Edy's book list on diverse Middle Eastern cultures and cuisines

Edy Massih Why did Edy love this book?

Any of the books Salma Hage comes out with are absolutely amazing. She has the perfect approach to bringing authentic Lebanese food to the Western palate. This beautiful and massive cookbook is the encyclopedia of a Middle Eastern kitchen—it’s like my bible.

It’s been a reference for me throughout the years, like a stepping stone into Lebanese cookbooks. It was one of the first I ever picked up—512 pages with 500 recipes!

By Salma Hage,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lebanese Cookbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive book on Lebanese home cooking, featuring 500 authentic and delicious easy-to-make recipes

On the shores of the eastern Mediterranean and a gateway to the Middle East, Lebanon has long been regarded as having one of the most refined cuisines in the region, blending textures, and ingredients from a myriad of sources. First published as The Lebanese Kitchen and now back in print under its new title, The Lebanese Cookbook, this is the definitive guide, bringing together hundreds of diverse dishes, from light, tempting mezzes and salads, to hearty main courses, grilled meats, sumptuous sweets, and refreshing drinks.

Book cover of Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War

Tim Pritchard Author Of Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

From my list on battles that go wrong.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.  

Tim's book list on battles that go wrong

Tim Pritchard Why did Tim love this book?

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.

By Robert Fisk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pity the Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pity the Nation ranks among the classic accounts of war in our time, both as historical document and as an eyewitness testament to human savagery. Written by one of Britain's foremost journalists, this remarkable book combines political analysis and war reporting in an unprecedented way: it is an epic account of the Lebanon conflict by an author who has personally witnessed the carnage of Beirut for over a decade. Fisk's book recounts the details of a
terrible war but it also tells a story of betrayal and illusion, of Western blindness that had led inevitably to political and military catastrophe.…

Book cover of The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon

Khalil F. Osman Author Of Sectarianism in Iraq: The Making of State and Nation Since 1920

From my list on sectarianism in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a diverse work experience, having taught political science, and worked as a journalist and UN official. My interest in sectarianism in the Arab world grew from my work as a journalist covering Middle Eastern and Iraqi affairs and as a UN official in Iraq. Working in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion, I witnessed firsthand how the sectarian violence that gripped Iraq highlighted the failure of social integration in nurturing a national identity. Scholarly work on sectarianism in the region was focused on Lebanon. In addressing this scholarly gap, I combined my academic training in political science, extensive knowledge of Islamic history, and decades-long fieldwork and life experiences in the region.

Khalil's book list on sectarianism in the Middle East

Khalil F. Osman Why did Khalil love this book?

Drawing on a vast array of primary archival sources and secondary writings, Ussama Makdisi provides an original analytical historical account of the origins of sectarianism in Lebanon. He traces the roots of the atavistic sectarian violence that gripped Ottoman Mount Lebanon in 1860. His narrative refutes widespread arguments making a case for the primordial nature of sectarian identities in Lebanon. Instead, he argues that sectarianism in Lebanon is a byproduct of modernity and modernization. Makdisi shows that sectarianism in Lebanon is a modern nineteenth-century phenomenon linked to the confluence of various historical developments, including the introduction of Ottoman reforms known as Tanzimat, diffusion of European ideas of nationalism, the Ottoman Empire’s integration into the world capitalist market, and colonial meddling in the internal affairs of the Sick Man of Europe.

By Ussama Makdisi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Culture of Sectarianism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Focusing on Ottoman Lebanon, Ussama Makdisi shows how sectarianism was a manifestation of modernity that transcended the physical boundaries of a particular country. His study challenges those who have viewed sectarian violence as an Islamic response to westernization or simply as a product of social and economic inequities among religious groups. The religious violence of the nineteenth century, which culminated in sectarian mobilizations and massacres in 1860, was a complex, multilayered, subaltern expression of modernization, he says, not a primordial reaction to it. Makdisi argues that sectarianism represented a deliberate mobilization of religious identities for political and social purposes. The…

Book cover of Old Souls: Compelling Evidence From Children Who Remember Past Lives

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of Intuitive Tarot 101: A self-study journey through the tarot

From my list on past lives that will help you heal.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a clairaudient medium and I’ve been a professional tarot card reader for 23 years. Delving into past lives is not only something I’m fascinated with but something I do for my spiritual business, as well. The most important part for my clients is not only knowing about their past lives but understanding how the struggles and lessons learned in those lives are applicable to their present life on this planet. History repeats itself is not just a cliche; I’ve always known how important it is to process and release these karmic teachings.

Claudia's book list on past lives that will help you heal

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Why did Claudia love this book?

This is the very first book that I ever picked up regarding past lives back when I was 18 years old and wandering through a bookshop. It presents compelling evidence on the continuation of our souls through the accounts of children who vividly recall their past lives.

Reading their stories, I was filled with awe and a sense of wonder about the vastness of our existence beyond this lifetime. The book challenged my worldview, inviting me to question and explore the concept of reincarnation from a scientific perspective, and how this awareness could bring about healing and transformation in my present life.

By Thomas Shroder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Old Souls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For nearly seven decades psychiatrist Dr. Ian Stevenson has been travelling the world, tracking reports of children who claim to have lived before. Spontaneously they will recall vivid details about complete strangers who died before they were born, people they say they once were. And when the memories are checked against the facts of real lives, they match to an astonishing degree. It took journalist Tom Shroder years to persuade Dr. Stevenson to allow him to accompany him on his field research, the first ever to have that privilege. From the hills of Beirut, Lebanon to the slums of northern…

Book cover of What It Means to be Palestinian: Stories of Palestinian Peoplehood

Zahera Harb Author Of Reporting the Middle East: The Practice of News in the Twenty-First Century

From my list on the Middle East from a Lebanese journalist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Arriving in the UK to pursue my PhD after a career in Journalism in my native country Lebanon, a few days before September 11, 2001, set me on a journey to put right the way my region and its people are represented in British and international media. The Middle East, the Arab region, Islam, and Muslims became the focal point of coverage for many years that followed. Most of that coverage had been tainted with negative stereotypes that do not speak true to who we are and what we stand for. Achieving fair representation and portrayal of ethnic and religious minorities have become one of my life passions.  

Zahera's book list on the Middle East from a Lebanese journalist

Zahera Harb Why did Zahera love this book?

As a journalist I have often reported on the Palestinian refugees in my home country Lebanon. I visited the refugee camps and spoke to its residents, and every time I leave the place with stories of what they have behind when they had to flee the historic land of Palestine in 1948 and later in 1967. The old keys and deeds to their homes that had been passed on from one generation to another, stay witness to their conviction of their right to return. This book is about those people and their narratives. It is about Palestinians’ collective memory of loss, that has been kept alive mostly through the spoken word. This book is a narrative documenting those narratives. It captures the essence of what it means to be Palestinian. 

By Dina Matar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What It Means to be Palestinian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"What It Means to be Palestinian" is a narrative of narratives, a collection of personal stories, remembered feelings and reconstructed experiences by different Palestinians whose lives were changed and shaped by history. Their stories are told chronologically through particular phases of the Palestinian national struggle, providing a composite autobiography of Palestine as a landscape and as a people. The book begins with the 1936 revolt against British rule in Palestine and ends in 1993, with the Oslo peace agreement that changed the nature and form of the national struggle. It is based on in-depth interviews and conversations with Palestinians, male…

Book cover of The Root: The Marines in Beirut

John Lawson III Author Of Kurtz

From my list on people who want the Marine Corps to get smarter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love the Marines. After spending 12 years trying to join the Corps, with numerous rejections, I graduated from Parris Island at 31. As much as I love the Marines, I love reading and writing more. Reading and writing foster deep thought and wisdom in ways that coding, calculating, and puzzle-solving can’t. Having worked as a newspaper reporter, a military analyst, and a Marine, I couldn’t help but loathe the foolish ideas that made the wars on terror so frustrating. I have faith in the Marine Corps (“Semper Fidelis”), and I believe reading thoughtful books can make Marines wiser.

John's book list on people who want the Marine Corps to get smarter

John Lawson III Why did John love this book?

I started to love this book as soon as I realized I didn’t hate it. Initially, I thought Hammel had no point. He showed Marines doing this and that in Beirut. Sometimes they were hanging out, sometimes they were fighting. Then I realized Hammel had captured everything perfectly.

I didn’t understand what the Marines were doing in Beirut because they didn’t understand what they were doing there, and they didn’t understand what they were doing there because Washington didn’t know why it sent them there.

In that context, I grasped the tragedy of the deadly Beirut barracks bombing of Oct. 23, 1983. Nearly 250 Marines died because of an intellectual vacuum.

By Eric Hammel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Root as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ROOT The Marines in Beirut August 1982-–February 1984 Eric Hammel. Facing northward out of a second-deck window, the lance corporal was hurled through the window and out into mid-air. He fell thirty feet to the ground and landed on his feet. He was not harmed until falling debris struck him on the head and shoulders. Nearly every other member of the recon platoon in his compartment was killed in the inferno. At 6:22 A.M. on October 23, 1983, a yellow Mercedes truck raced across the parking lot of the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon. Crashing through a chain-link gate…

Book cover of An Evil Cradling

David Kerr Author Of Out of Latvia: The Son of a Latvian Immigrant Searches for his Roots

From my list on how people triumphed over trauma and tragedy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been curious and passionate about how people overcame significant suffering in their lives. True stories of how people emerged stronger from traumatic events not only became an inspiration in my personal life but also my professional life as a therapist, where I became an agent of change. The ‘secret’ of these storytellers and their transformation became my focus. I only hope you find these stories as enjoyable as I did and also a challenge and an inspiration that makes a difference in your own life.

David's book list on how people triumphed over trauma and tragedy

David Kerr Why did David love this book?

I loved this book because of the insight the author gives to his strategy of survival–kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured for over four years in the hands of Shi’ite militia.

Beautifully written, Keenan’s artistry thrilled me with its almost spiritual air and testimony to rare human resilience and its transformative power.

By Brian Keenan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked An Evil Cradling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brian Keenan's release from captivity was the first ray of hope for those hostages held in the Middle East. He describes the plight of his fellow hostages with first-hand knowledge. The language he uses reflects his past efforts as a poet in describing the pain and claustrophobia of imprisonment.

Book cover of Between the Ottomans and the Entente: The First World War in the Syrian and Lebanese Diaspora, 1908-1925

Emrah Sahin Author Of Faithful Encounters: Authorities and American Missionaries in the Ottoman Empire

From my list on understanding the Ottoman Empire and the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Emrah Sahin is a specialist in the history of religious interactions and international operations in Islam and Muslim-Christian relations. He received a Ph.D. from McGill University, a Social Science and Humanities Research Award from Canada, the Sabancı International Research Award from Turkey, and the Teacher of the Year Award from the University of Florida. He is currently with the University of Florida as a board member in Global Islamic Studies, an affiliate in History, a lecturer in European Studies, a college-wide advisor, and the coordinator of the federal Global Officer program.

Emrah's book list on understanding the Ottoman Empire and the world

Emrah Sahin Why did Emrah love this book?

Connecting nation, migration, and narration, Stacy’s debut is a corrective to what we know about Arabs in the Americas at a time when their homeland transitioned from the Ottoman regime to the European mandate. It strikes with global strokes and fine details whether it is about women at a Brooklyn factory, a French consulate spy chasing an anti-German diplomat-turned-traitor, or some mysteriously disappearing witnesses on sight.

By Stacy D. Fahrenthold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between the Ottomans and the Entente as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since 2011 over 5.6 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and beyond, and another 6.6 million are internally displaced. The contemporary flight of Syrian refugees comes one century after the region's formative experience with massive upheaval, displacement, and geopolitical intervention: the First World War.

In this book, Stacy Fahrenthold examines the politics of Syrian and Lebanese migration around the period of the First World War. Some half million Arab migrants, nearly all still subjects of the Ottoman Empire, lived in a diaspora concentrated in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. They faced new demands for their political loyalty…