From a distance—and even from the distance of a country that's been meddling in the Middle East—politics in that region seem to be a dizzying mass of religious and ethnic groups, disputed boundaries, ever-multiplying factions, and political parties. To understand the nuances, it sometimes takes the perspective of someone like Cathy Sultan, an outsider who has earned a certain level of insider status after living in Beirut for 13 years, a time that included the first eight years of the civil war in Lebanon. Her first book was about her family's experiences in Beirut. In Tragedy in South Lebanon, Sultan examines the Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006 that was sparked when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Next to the obligatory, but no less well articulated, descriptions of the history that led to that war and suggestions to the policy makers of Lebanon, Israel, and the United States, the heart of this book are the first-person accounts of the war. Particularly memorable are the interviews with the Israeli and Lebanese soldiers who fought in the same battle.
Thu., May 22, 7 p.m., 2008