Lebanon, my Lebanon: A stirring new photography book sparks Robert Fisk’s memories

From The Independent:

Leb During a war, you never believe it will end. And when it does end – as Lebanon's civil conflict concluded just over 20 years ago – you cannot recreate the war you have lived through. I recall once, in 1995, driving up into the Chouf mountains, south-east of Beirut, for lunch, and breathing in the scent of wood and forest and remembering that the very first day of my reporting assignment – in 1976, near the start of the war – I had driven this same road and smelled the same trees and, despite the gunmen at the checkpoints and the bullet-spattered villages, had been overwhelmed by the beauty of this tiny-vast country. The colours, the high sierras, the dark snows of Mount Sannine glimmering to the north – for it is the spine of mountains down the centre of Lebanon that give this country its grandeur and immensity – have witnessed so much violence that the wars of antiquity must be recalled to put into perspective the hatreds of more recent killings. And it was on that morning of peace, 15 years ago, that I suddenly ' realised I had not thought of the war – the civil war that took 150,000 lives – for many days. I was cured.

Or was I? Max Milligan's imperishable photographs of Lebanon – and I have to say that he has sought out things that I have either never seen or have forgotten in the 34 years I have lived here – do not avoid the war. A school crushed by Israel's 1982 invasion, a building peppered with Syrian bullet holes, a Beirut apartment block so smashed it still looks like Irish lace, Beaufort Castle – ruined by both Palestinian and Israeli attackers – are caught with an almost cynical lens, as though the pictures have captured the humour of the Lebanese. There is a wonderful moment at the start, when Milligan recalls a moment at a friend's home when a television presenter was warning of the dangers of microbes on paper cash: “Always wash your hands after handling it,” she advised. “Thank God we haven't got any money!” shouted my friend's father.

More here.