In his debut autobiography, The Burning Cedars, the author provides a poignant and pragmatic account of the Lebanese civil war and ensuing turmoil while candidly unraveling the intricate secrets and at times turbulent relationships of his family whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional... read more
On the morning of April 13, 1975, the Lebanese civil war got underway and for the next fifteen years, countless broken agreements and cease fires, un-eventful negotiations, foreign "peace keeping" troops, special envoys, US Marines and warships, Israeli Invasions, Arab League accords,... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
On the morning of April 13, 1975, the Lebanese civil war got underway and for the next fifteen years, countless broken agreements and cease fires, un-eventful negotiations, foreign "peace keeping" troops, special envoys, US Marines and warships, Israeli Invasions, Arab League accords, International interventions and shifting alliances, all failed to halt the violent massacres, the cruel bloodshed and the total destruction of my country. Its cause was multifaceted yet its effects clear, deliberate and calculated.
With over 200,000 civilian fatalities, one million wounded, 350,000 displaced and over one million fleeing the country, Lebanon, nicknamed "Switzerland of the East" along with its capital Beirut, "Paris of the Middle East," lay in ruin, powerfully disintegrated and effectively polarized.
Among all the ruin and chaos, a small boy and his family miraculously endured and survived to tell their story.
A story of wealth and poverty, of laughter and pain, of holy visions and depression, of sadness and loneliness and of triumph and survival. A family desperately trying to stay alive and stay together against overwhelming odds, hopeless chances and dire circumstances.
I was eleven when the war started yet its effects, memories, sounds and smells will remain forever fixed in my mind. For better or worse, these events and their ensuing effects made me the person I am today.
This is my story of growing up in Lebanon.
“I looked through the crater in my parent's bedroom wall and saw one piece of paper gently meandering through the air. I looked closer and noticed it was one of my dad's currency notes, half burnt, floating calmly through the air like an injured and bewildered butterfly. The note, still smoldering by the intense heat, had a picture of the Lebanese cedar tree on one side which was almost completely burnt by the explosion and I thought to myself, how fitting that this peace of paper can foretell the future of my country!”
“My village of Aley enjoyed cool summers and cold snowy winters. The day usually starts out with sunny skies giving way to overcast and cool afternoons as the warm air from the Mediterranean sweeps over Beirut climbing slowly up the steep mountainside then condensing into thick sheets of mist once met by the cool mountain air, forming dense fog and obscuring everything in its path.”
“Domineering and ruthless, my grandmother lived her life in a manner which afforded her the greatest gain and benefit from everyone around her, with total disregard to any harm or negative consequence this may inflict on others.”
“My uncles' unwavering attention and love for me did not go unnoticed by my brother who received little of it. His jealousy boiled over into loud and sometimes physical confrontations with my uncle. My brother gradually distanced himself from me and our relationship has remained subdued ever since.”
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