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Levant A Fractured Mosaic

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At the outset of the 21st century, perhaps the most interesting feature of the Levant (in Arabic, Bilad al-Sham), in the midst of an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim Arab world, is the command of the entire coastal zone from Cilicia south to Sinai either by non-Arabs or by Arabs who are not Sunni Muslims. This reality overshadows the Levantine interior. In the central Levant the mountain has come to town with the Alawi political ascendance in Damascus in the south, Israeli military and economic power dominates the Palestinians and Jordanians. The transformation in less than a century is remarkable. The revolutionary alteration in the affairs of the Levant through the 20th century has obviously caused great tension. The character and viability of all of the new states created in Bilad al-Sham since 1920 is in continuous flux; national, ethnic, and sectarian frictions have shaped the contemporary geopolitics of the region. These frictions play themselves out in a setting characterized by limited space, rising population pressure, resource shortages, and international strategic interest. In the north, the Arabs face the Turks, who command the main water source. In the center, Lebanon and Syria have yet to settle their identities and interrelationship in a situation of regime insecurity, sectarian sensitivity, and economic crisis. In the south, the confrontation between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs lurches toward some sort of denouement. A Fractured Mosaic attempts an overall assessment of the contemporary affairs of the Levant, in the context of the history of the region since Roman times.
“The Levant, which comprises Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, and Turkey, has played a pivotal role in world history from the time of
the Romans to the present. The region’s kaleidoscope of religions and ethnicities has influenced not only its past but also its contemporary significance in the Middle East. A political studies professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand, who has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East and has published on the Levant and the Persian Gulf, Harris provides a detailed survey of historical and geostrategic developments in the Levant and places contemporary events in a proper historical framework . Harris goes beyond historical developments to examine the unique circumstances that have led to sociopolitical fault lines in the contemporary nation-states of the Levant. The author also analyzes the region’s future prospects in light of pressure from the rising populations and resource shortages. This well-researched and engaging book will be valuable to scholars and informed readers alike.
Recommended for academic and large public libraries”
— Library Journal
“Packed with solid information about the complex reality of the Levant (East Mediterranean littoral) in its historical, geographical, and political aspects during the past two millennia. The historical patterns and parallels, however, are superseded by a frightening summary of the region’s future (and perhaps unsolvable) prospects: overpopulation, declining water resources, global warming, and it’s regional consequences, inefficient and corrupt governments. These prospects are compounded by local and regional, political and religious rivalries among the mosaic of peoples and ubiquitous sects that permeate the area and maintain the divisiveness. The nationalist ideologies of Israelis and Palestinians are the headline grabbers, but this conflict only temporarily masks the rivalries and problems described above, including ancestral border disputes with surrounding states, primarily Turkey. Harris also notes the role of Western powers and analyzes their political and economic inroads into the area. In short, the book summarizes libraries of research to provide an up-to-date guide to present and future problems in this flash-point of Western civilization. The survey is remarkably balanced in its depiction of ideologies and rivalries and is replete with useful maps and bibliography … Highly recommended.”
— Choice
Levant: A Fractured Mosaic (Third Edition 2008)
William Harris
Outstanding Academic Book of the Year, CHOICE Magazine
Hardcover: $68.95
Hardcover ISBN: 155876450X
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781558764507
Paperback: $26.95
Paperback ISBN: 1558764518
Paperback ISBN-13: 9781558764514


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