The Lebanese have always lacked a common vision of their past. From
the beginning Muslims and Christians have disagreed fundamentally
over their country's historical legitimacy: Christians on the whole
have affirmed it, Muslims have tended to emphasize Lebanon's place
in a broader Arab history. Both groups have used nationalist ideas
in a destructive game, which at a deeper level involves archaic
loyalties and tribal rivalries. But Lebanon cannot afford these
conflicting visions if it is to develop and maintain a sense of
political community. In the course of his lively exposition, Salibi
offers a major reinterpretation of Lebanese history and provides
insights into the dynamic of Lebanon's recent conflict. He also
gives an account of how the images of communities which underlie
modern nationalism are created.
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