||May 22, 2006
To Beirut and Back - Abe F. March
A true story of adventure, international intrigue and danger!
Frustrated with a salaried employee’s life and an insular upbringing, Abe struck out on his own to become a successful entrepreneur with a will to risk.
He eventually sought his fortune in Middle East where he encountered a very different mentality and business culture; and where events would change his political attitudes.
Just as the money began rolling in, he and his family became caught up in the danger and tragedy of the Lebanese Civil War. Despite being robbed, shot at and kidnapped, he remained in Lebanon even after westerners had fled as a matter of self-preservation.
Although financial ruin finally impelled him to leave, he returned a year later and was hailed as “The First American Back.”
In his travels throughout the Middle East he met with representatives of princes, kings and the Shah of Iran. But could he resist the temptation of undertaking illegal activities for high stakes?
This book's story bears witness to the risks of the entrepreneur in a foreign land with the hazards of unpredictable events. It also provides a look at the customs and life of the Arabs, their mentality and their business practices.
This story is true based on the recollections of the author and his family. Although exact quotes cannot be considered accurate, they portray conversational content as remembered and expressed. In addition, the names of some of the persons have been changed to protect their privacy.
WARRING FACTIONS in Lebanon (1975)
Situated at the major crossroads of East and West Civilization, Lebanon has been overrun time and again by conquering Armies. The inhabitants of this coastal strip have been known throughout history as Canaanites, Phoenicians, Syrians and Lebanese. They have always been merchants, not warriors. With few exceptions, they have always waited to determine which way the battles would lean, and then sided with the expected victor.
Centuries had not changed the Lebanese. They maintained neutrality in the international arena except when the Arabs were at risk with other nations. The the bond of language brought the Arabs together. True Arabians are few and exist in Saudi Arabia and in Sheikdoms throughout the Gulf region. Simply stated, an Arab is one who speaks Arabic and is of Arab - Semitic descent, the majority of which are Moslem. The exceptions were to be found in Lebanon.
Lebanon acquired its independence in 1945 during the French Mandate which stipulated that the President of Lebanon must be a Maronite Christian, and the Prime Minister a Sunni Moslem. According to the recorded population statistics at the time of the Mandate, there were more Christians than Moslems living in Lebanon. This ratio changed in the years that followed and now there are more Moslems than Christians.
The Government was comprised of various factions, each representing its religious sect. The Christians were known as the Phalangists, or the Kataeb, the predominant faction of the 'Rightists,' while the predominant faction of the 'Leftists,' were the Nasserites (Pan-Arab) and the Progressive Socialist Party, comprised mostly of Moslems.
Camile Chamoun and Pierre Gemayel led the 'Rightists' while Kamal Junblatt headed the 'Leftist' movement, supported in part by the Palestinians.
Troubles surrounded every election........
Living in the Mideast
In To Beirut and Back, Abe March has told a true story of his adventures in the various places of the world he has lived. Anyone interested in what it is like for Americans who venture past our borders to live and work in other countries, especially the Middle East, will find this an informative and important book. I recently read a book where the author wrote of the importance of obtaining the points of views of businessmen, not only political leaders regarding life in other countries. Abe paints a vivid portrayal of life in Lebanon. He writes an excellent account of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975 with such description that one can clearly imagine and feel the bullets as they are fired at him, his despair at losing all he worked for, and the fear he felt for his family and himself. The sadness on Abe’s return to Beirut and his feelings towards his final time of leaving, show his fondness for the country of Lebanon and the problems preventing this beautiful country from ongoing peace. Having met this author, I was impressed by his confidence, determination and his entrepreneurial successes. His travels have influenced his viewpoints of life, which involve looking at the United States from the inside as well as outside. What comes out in his writing is his spirit of adventure and his ability to take risks with calculation and success. I asked about the conversations, and he said he felt they were almost completely accurate, that his memories of what the people in his life had said were vivid, pointing to the importance of his writing of his experiences. In the end of the book he speaks of walking along the sea in Lebanon, of the fishing boats and swimmers splashing in the surf, “as this magic spell possessed me.” He asks what would happen to the Lebanon he had come to love. He speaks throughout the book of his concerns for the Middle East and its future. I would highly recommend this book as a picture of a beautiful country that leaves the reader with admiration for its citizens, as well as a sense of concern regarding the results of ongoing strife.
No my usual choice in books
New Hampshire, USA (7/28/2006)
This book is not only one of intrigue, but a lesson in the history of Lebanon and the region. For the author’s knowledge of the Middle East alone, I recommend this book. I believe it should be required reading on Capital Hill. I only enjoy a book that teaches me and this one certainly did. It read like a novel, but serves to enlighten. Additionally, Mr. March gives us a lesson in what it takes to succeed. He had passion, motivation, energy and a zest for life, and he wasn’t a quitter. More importantly, he cared about humanity, about doing the right thing. I can only imagine how Mr. March and his family face the daily news accounts of what is happening today in Lebanon – it must be heartbreaking. I am grateful that this book was recommended to me. Read, learn and enjoy.
An inside Look...
In “ To Beirut And Back: An American in the Middle East ” by author Abe March I was taken back to a time when, even though freedom was granted to those here in the United States without question, it was difficult being an American business man in a foreign country. Back in the 1970’s, many who lived and did business abroad were not immediately concerned about the threat of violence, even though it was around them. When the major violence did break out in the Middle East many fled-except March. He stood his ground. I found the personal account of the trials March and his family faced during the Lebanese Civil War heart wrenching. Now, however, when one goes abroad-especially the Middle East-they are on guard. March risked not only material possessions, but most importantly, his life-not knowing what or having reason to fear what he was walking into. This book is most recommended, not only for its inside look into a tumultuous time in our history, but for its “edge of your seat” effect. Allow Mr. March to take you inside his personal account of his life in “To Beirut and Back”. Candice M. Martin “Reflections In My Tears” & “Petals of Life: A Survivor’s Writings”
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Reader Reviews for "To Beirut and Back - An American in the Middle East"
|Reviewed by Duane March
|A very interesting and enlightening book - for Americans in particular!|
|Reviewed by Rosemarie Skaine
|Promises to be a most timely read. R|