Rapture, Resistance, Revolution

Posted October 5th, 2010 by Thanassis Cambanis and filed in A Privilege to Die,Reviews

In his review of A Privilege to Die for Global Post my friend the mystery writer (and veteran Middle East hand) Matt Beynon Rees calls attention to one the main endeavors of the book: to place front and center the regular Joes and Janes (or Ranis and Farahs) that have elevated Hezbollah into a perennial and expanding trend-setting militant movement.

Hezbollah’s rank-and-file, the footsoldiers and volunteers, aren’t always scheming against Israel or dreaming of perpetual war; they’re also strivers looking for better jobs, education for their kids, and a more honest relationship with God.

Because of its growth and success on the battlefield, the Party of God itself often takes on mythic status. Outsiders sometimes impute far greater cunning, skill and sophistication to Hezbollah than its occasionally clunky and authoritarian behavior merits.

Matt re-tells one of the more amusing encounters I had with Hezbollah while reporting the book:

Unsatisfied with one of his stories, Hezbollah officials denied his book the cooperation of the Party of God (“Hizb” means party in Arabic; “Allah” you probably heard of already.) He describes one party functionary telling him, “‘You can’t possibly write a book about Hezbollah without the party’s permission, right? You’ll have to move on to another project?’ Like many Hezbollah officials she overestimated the party’s ability to control or manipulate a foreigner like me and she thought the prospect of future access would tempt me to relinquish writing this book.”

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