The Long Peace: Ottoman Lebanon, 1861–1920

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Engin Deniz Akarlı, Ph.D. 1976.

Long notorious as one of the most turbulent areas of the world, Lebanon nevertheless experienced an interlude of peace between its civil war of 1860 and the beginning of the French Mandate in 1920. Engin Akarli examines the sociopolitical changes resulting from the negotiations and shifting alliances characteristic of these crucial years.

Using previously unexamined documents in Ottoman archives, Akarli challenges the prevailing view that attributes modernization in government to Western initiative while blaming stagnation on reactionary local forces. Instead, he argues, indigenous Lebanese experience in self-rule as well as reconciliation among different religious groups after 1860 laid the foundation for secular democracy. European intervention in Lebanese politics, however, hampered efforts to develop a correspondingly secular notion of Lebanese nationality.

As ethnic and religious strife increases throughout much of eastern Europe and the Middle East, the Lebanese example has obvious relevance for our own time.


Best History Book by a Missouri Resident Award, Missouri Historical Society


"In this pioneering work, Engin Akarli utilizes the voluminous records on Ottoman Lebanon to shed new light on the comparatively long peace maintained there between the civil war of 1860 and the establishment of the French Mandate in 1920."Third World Quarterly

"A masterful study of the last decades of Ottoman rule in Mount Lebanon. . . . Akarli's work demonstrates conclusively that the political history of the Arab lands under Ottoman rule should not be approached without reference to Ottoman sources. The author's fluency in Arabic enabled him to master the extensive literature based on local sources, which he has interwoven dexterously with his Ottoman material. What results is both the definitive study of the Mutasarrifyya and a valuable case study of administrative reforms initiating the process of state formation."Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

"The book is meticulously researched and as rich in content as in insights and altogether a most valuable addition to the historical library on Lebanon."International Journal of Middle East Studies

"A comprehensive study of a unique experience in state formation not only in Lebanon but in the entire pre-World War I Middle East. Akarli places the Ottoman administration in Lebanon under a completely new light and points to new methodological avenues for the study of Ottoman Arab provinces while illuminating a neglected, but long and crucial chapter in Lebanese history."Turkish Studies Association Bulletin

"The modern history of Lebanon, a Middle Eastern polity that has experienced such a combination of tensions in our own time, merits Engin Deniz Akarli's painstakingly researched contribution to our understanding of Lebanon's earlier nineteenth-century experience with these problems when it still was only a part, although a rather distinctive one, of the Ottoman empire."American Historical Review

"Akarll's careful work in the Ottoman archives has enabled him to present a genuinely new perspective on modern Lebanese history. Furthermore, he points the way forward for other scholars to build on his beginnings."Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

"One of the best studies of nineteenth-century Lebanon."—Leila Fawaz, Tufts University

University of California Press
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