ON-Lion Letter
Encounter Books' new The Road to Fatima Gate:  The Beirut Spring, the Rise of Hezbollah, and the Iranian War Against Israel, by Michael J. Totten, is a first-person narrative account of revolution, terrorism, and war during history's violent return to Lebanon after 15 years of quiet.  Totten's version of events in one of the most-volatile countries in the world's most-volatile region is one part war correspondence, one part memoir, and one part road movie.

Totten is a foreign correspondent and foreign-policy analyst who has reported from the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus.  He writes regularly for Commentary magazine and Pajamas Media.

He sets up camp in a tent city built in downtown Beirut by anti-Syrian dissidents, is bullied and menaced by Hezbollah's supposedly friendly "media-relations" department, crouches under fire on the Lebanese-Israeli border during the six-week war in 2006, witnesses an Israeli ground invasion from behind a line of Merkava tanks, sneaks into Hezbollah's postwar rubblescape without authorization, and is attacked in Beirut by militiamen who enforce obedience to the "resistance" at the point of a gun.

From the Cedar Revolution that ousted the Syrian military regime in 2005 to the devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006 to Hezbollah's slow-motion but violent assault on Lebanon's elected government and capital, Totten's account is both personal and comprehensive.  His Road to Fatima Gate should be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the Middle East, Iran's expansionist foreign policy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, asymmetric warfare, and terrorism in the aftermath of September 11.

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit group that is substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.  Bradley also supports Commentary.
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