The Opening of South Lebanon, 1788-1840: A Study of the Impact of the West on the Middle East

The Opening of South Lebanon, 1788-1840: A Study of the Impact of the West on the Middle East

The Opening of South Lebanon, 1788-1840: A Study of the Impact of the West on the Middle East

The Opening of South Lebanon, 1788-1840: A Study of the Impact of the West on the Middle East

Excerpt

The period of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries has been aptly described as "one of the darkest in Islamic history." Early Islam has engaged the attention of many Muslim and Western scholars while modern events have caught the eyes of travelers, journalists, and diplomats as well as scholars. In contrast to earlier more vital years when Islamic society played a more important role in world affairs and to recent times in which the West has developed major interests in the Middle East, the years in which Islamic society was not creative and the West had little commercial or political interest are relatively unexplored.

Egypt is the outstanding exception, since Egypt has retained a tradition for bureaucratic conservation of information and was opened to Western influence three decades before the Syrian hinterland. Nothing dealing with the Fertile Crescent area can compare with the marvelous French army collection, the Description d'Égypte, or with the relatively sophisticated chronicle of Gabarti, or with the government archives. What scant information has been preserved on the Levant is mainly restricted to the coastal strip in which the consuls lived and the relatively permanent governments held sway. Inland, one must glean grains of information over a large field.

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