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Hezbollah: A Short History

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  415 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews

Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong: Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization--nor is it likely to disappear any time soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group--a hybrid of militia, political party, and social services and public works provider--remains very popular in the Middle East. After Leb
Paperback, 199 pages
Published February 8th 2009 by Princeton University Press (first published March 5th 2007)
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Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: syria, politics
Lebanese politics is in one convoluted pickle. While relatively concise, this book contextualises the historical backdrop with an appropriate level of detail. For a topic so vast, Norton breaks down the Lebanese political sphere into digestible chapters, starting before the civil war and culminating with the events following the Lebanon-Israel war of 2006.

Published in 2007, many additional turning points have occurred that might make this book seem outdated; nonetheless, the most recent edition
Leo Africanus
A well informed 'behind the scenes' analysis of an oft misunderstood organisation.
Patrick Belair
A very interesting read. I'll have to read it again to get all the info straight it's that good and complex !!
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-world
A concise history of Hezbollah from its emergence in Lebanon in the mid '80's through the aftermath of its 2006 conflict with Israel. This book is valuable for the detailed information it provides on the organization - for the many character studies of Hezbollah's leaders, past and present - for the detailed analysis of its political evolution, its changing philosophy and goals - and especially for its description of the major impact this organization has had on the social and political life of ...more
Oct 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Norton has chronicled the origins and development of the Lebanese resistance party Hezbollah, which rose to prominence as one of the major political players during Israel's occupation of Lebanon during the 1980's. This account benefits from Norton's background in anthropology which enables him to analyze the cultural and ethnic complexity of Lebanon in his discussion. However, his historical background on the political history of Lebanon is somewhat meandering and also slim.

At the same
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A balanced and often nuanced examination of Lebanese political, sectarian, and international affairs that gave rise and support to Hezbollah first as a resistance organization and eventually as a viable political party. Like most things in Lebanon, surety of support domestically is a fluid thing and depends on how well the organization manages to walk the precipices that comprise the regional conflicts (Israel, Syria/Iraq), the rising sectarian tensions that underscore those conflicts, and the c ...more
University of Chicago Magazine
Augustus Richard Norton, PhD'84

From the author: "Drawing on extensive fieldwork and more that three decades of work on the Shi'i community of Lebanon, this volume offers an authoritative introduction to the history, culture, politics, strategy and dilemmas of Hezbollah, the Iran-supported party and military force which plays a dominant role in Lebanon while also confronting Israel and striving to thwart U.S. and western influence in large swaths of the Middle East. This edition, published
Very well written and captivating introduction to Hezbollah and the complex political and demographic landscape of Lebanon. Balanced, detailed, factual and objective. The author doesn't jump on the terrorist bandwagon and manages to explain clearly what kind of organization Hezbollah really is.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great summation of the confusing and difficult political quagmire that is Lebanon. Also, a great piece of history in the author's conclusion as he does a tour of Mubarak in Egypt, the society of Muslim brothers, al-Assad in Syria, and more.
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
People say it's sort of polemical, which is true, but I think it makes a good point about the way the US dismisses Hizb Allah as a monolithic organization for terrorism.
Bradley Farless
This is a pretty good overview of the Hezbollah and the major turning points in the group's evolution. The afterword, which adds a bit to the narrative, is current up to August 2008.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Informative but a tad dry in places
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first jump into the Hezbollah's story. Very solid and interesting book which describes perplexed question of Lebanon's modern history and Shia's community in it.
In the highly readable book, Hezbollah, Richard Norton recounts the history of the Lebanese Shi’a organization Hezbollah.

According to Norton, the figure that initially catalyzed Lebanon’s downtrodden Shi’a was Imam Musa al-Sadr, the Iranian born cleric of Lebanese ancestry who came to Lebanon in the late 1950s. He urged his followers not to accept as fate their poverty and disenfranchisement.

Hezbollah was launched in 1982—after Israel had invaded to thwart armed Palestinian groups from infiltrat
Frank Kelly
Norton's slim history of Hezbollah is quite fascinating. And confusing - not his fault but really due to the enormous complexity of the Shia families, parties, gangs, offshoots, etc. in Lebanon. Stunning, really, how complex the situation is there just amongst them.

But several interesting take-away's: First, that the al-Sadr clan have had an outsized impact on Lebanon. Many of us know al-Sadr from the Iraqi firebrand clerical leader Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, Iraq - essentially the murderous lea
David López
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good piece to begin to understand Hezbollah and its contexts. It is quite hard to learn the story of the group because there is too much information and too much characters involved that you'd need a corkboard to trace all the relationships of support and conflict. The writer tries to be as impartial as possible and he achieves that to a big extent.
This book is very friendly to those who are not familiar with the Middle East because it acknowledges the long and complicated story of this p
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I agree that this boom could've been better organized - it was mostly definitely confusing at times going from war to eat to celebration to celebration to city to city and to names of different leaders; that being said, Lebanon itself does have a very confusing, complex, and tumultuous history that can be quite hard to understand generally.

Overall, this book was readable but I would have liked to have a more in-depth analysis of Hezbollah's exact political viewpoints and things of that nature.
Matt Payne
This book definitely gave me a better understanding of Lebanese politics and the role that Hezbollah is trying to play locally and globally.

I didn't get much of an understanding of the personalities involved. And a lot of the details were pretty vague.

I recommend it for anybody who wants to learn more about Hezbollah, but I only recommend it because I don't know of any better sources. It left me wishing for an even better understanding. That being said, it would be incredibly difficult to write
Feb 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short history could have been way better organized, but it's a good read anyways, and serves as an important tonic to reactionary western media representations of Hezbollah. Norton offers a complex portrait of a radical organization created amidst a brutal civil war, and it's interesting to read about Hezbollah's various manifestations since - including, most recently, as a very popular political party in Lebanon. The various organizational soul-searchings that Hezbollah has had to undertak ...more
I must admit l struggled a bit with the vocabulary in the beginning since l'm not used to reading this type of books but l'm glad l didn't give it up.
It's well written, and very undrstandable once you get to know the main political terms, but it seems to me that it's more of a book on general Lebanese politics than Hezbollah itself.
Nonetheless pretty useful although l got acquainted with those political relations already while reading Fisk's Pity the Nation, but maybe it's just that l prefer boo
Thiago S.
Interessante para um contato inicial com a historia do Hezbollah... algumas partes se tornam um pouco cansativas quando detalhadas, e outras (como por exemplo o desaparecimento do Imã Musa Sadr) poderiam ser melhor trabalhadas. No geral um livro informativo e que parece acurado, depois que comprei vi outros titulos que talvez sejam mais completos (ate pq esse se compromete a apresentar apenas uma "short history"). 3,25 estrelas
Jim Good
A short history of the Shi muslim movement in Lebenon and the formation of Hezbollah. Gives insight into Shia and Sunni faiths and foundings and their perspective strongholds. The book deals with Hezbollah’s challenge to established arab powers and insight into the struggle with Isreal. Casts Isreal in a poor light though in no way calls Hezbollah an innocent victim, either.
ok, reads like a history book (no surprise), however, Augustus' personal anecdotes and pictures were pretty nifty. most importantly, he's fairly balanced in his presentation of hezbollah. i enjoyed reading it with the face of nasrallah staring at me from a poster on my wall. 'good terrorists, bad terrorists,' perhaps?
Christina Lenon
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great history of how this Islamic political organization began in Lebanon... does a really good job of differentiating Hezbollah from Amal and Hamas (which can be a little tricky for us westerners)... I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in Middle Eastern politics and especially how Islam ties into the afore mentioned topic.
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone beginning their study of Hezbollah
I read this about two years ago. I knew very little about Hezbollah and wanted to learn more. This book was ideal to begin with. The book assumes that the reader has very little knowledge of the organization and discusses the history of Hezbollah in enough detail to get you started, but not so much detail to overwhelm you.
Christopher Grainger
Incoherent and superficial. Lacking narrative or argument. Random information basically flung on the page. I learned a few things, but it was wrested from a sea of uninformative generalising mixed with uninformative detail.
Bill Kyzner
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty interesting desciption of the events leading to a an environment in which Hezbollah could flourish. It addresses the rival political factions from which Hezbollah was born and its transformation into a political party.
Cameron Roberson
It's a nice overview of the origins of Lebanon's Islamist organization. While it doesn't get into how they're funded by the Iranians & Iranian influence much, it at least gives the reader a picture of the region & how some of these jihadist groups gain control.
Good primer on a serious group of "bad hombres" They are one of the core groups in the global terror network. We as a country need to learn more about these organizations.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting account of the history of Hezbollah.
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