Levantine Disaster

Levant by Philip Mansel, Yale University Press 2011, focuses on the Twentieth Century destruction of three notable Mediterranean cities. Smyrna, Alexandria, and Beirut were once cosmopolitan centers where people of various cultures interacted in a seemingly harmonious environment. They were urban centers that flourished for a time before being torn apart by ethnic and religious rivalries.

 levantine disaster

Mansel reveals the underlying causes leading to their eventual fall. Chief among them were the Northern European colonial interventions and disdain for the native peoples living there. Old empires eventually gave way to the increasing pressures of nationalism. The wealthy moved to safer places while those less fortunate remained behind.

Sadly, residents of the region still suffer from not only the indignities of the past but also the injustices of the present.

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