Lebanon in History from the Earliest Times to the Present

By Philip K. Hitti | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THIS is a daring attempt to sketch for the first time the meaningful events that have been squeezed through the ages into the area now covered by the Lebanese Republic and to record the achievements and distinctive contributions of the successive peoples who occupied it. In part, if not in full, the area has maintained an individuality of its own conditioned by its mountainous nature, proximity to the sea, Westward orientation and the character of its people. Possible relevance to the contemporary scene and relationship to world events determined what was considered meaningful. Those general events therefore were selected and that part of the past interpreted that were deemed valuable in facing the modern problems of the area and understanding its current happenings, and that were considered important from the standpoint of relationship to world affairs. In their ancient aspects the historic events in themselves are involved with those of Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Chaldaea, Persia, Macedonia and Rome; in their medieval aspects with others of the Byzantines, the Arabians and the Moslems; and in modern times with still others of the Ottoman Turks and the French, thus making the story that of a large part of the civilized world in miniature. Nevertheless no period in the long and chequered history of Lebanon -- the Phoenician excepted, and that mainly in its relation to the Old Testament -- has been adequately treated, least of all the modern period, to which a considerable part of this volume is devoted.

While the material was drawn largely from primary sources, enriched by the results of modern research, the presentation -- as in the case of the author's History of the Arabs and History of Syria, of which this may be considered a companion -- was aimed not at the specialist but at the student and general reader. The area is the one in which the author had spent his early days, to which he has since made repeated visits and with whose people he has kept in uninterrupted touch. If it is true that a knowledge of the past is indispensable for understanding the present, it must be equally true that first-hand acquaintance with the present is necessary for full appreciation of the past.

-vii-

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