ghosts in Beirut’s Martyrs Square


There are many ghosts in Beirut’s Martyrs Square, among them numerous courageous and outspoken Lebanese journalists. Samir Kassir, a political commentator and opponent of Syrian meddling in Lebanon, was murdered by car bomb in June 2005. A year earlier, he had summed up the Lebanese paradox in a conversation with Michael Young: “Yes, we were a laboratory for violence, but we were also, before that, a laboratory for modernity, and in some ways we still are.” In his illuminating and knowledgeable book, “The Ghosts of Martyrs Square,” Young explores those two contradictory strands by looking at a crucial period of Lebanese history, 2005 to 2009. In 2005, a momentous year for the country, Rafik Hariri, the onetime prime minister, was assassinated with a giant truck bomb. His murder sparked weeks of street protests that became known as the “Cedar Revolution” and led Syria, which was widely blamed for the killing but denied it, to withdraw its troops after decades of ­occupation.

more from Adam LeBor at the NYT here.