“Bet You Didn’t Know This About Beirut!” by Warren Singh-Bartlett

Review by Jack Eltschinger.

Bet You Didn't Know This About Beirut!Sometimes, when you love a country, and you do know it quite well, you want to discover a bit more of its history, but not in a dry and serious way reading some ancient history books provided by a dusty local antiquary. You want something more anecdotic, something more about the daily little secrets of a city that you thought you knew well, but that in fact, still keeps its secrets like pearls in her shell. This book it exactly the kind of book you need for that. Light to read, writing with a funny tone and illustrated with some hilarious drawing (the one caricaturing some Lebanese people fighting to pay the bill is an absolute must !). It will help you to learn the small history of the Phenix of the Middle-East.

Divided in nine chapters where you will learn that Phoenicians invented the purple color; what really happened to the statue on the Martyrs Square, the origin of the Dabké or that the first man on the moon was lebanese ; you will oscillate between serious matters and pure fun, from gossips and urban legend to the true origins of Europa. Even the most serious article are written in a humoristical way. That’s exactly the kind of history book you ever wanted to have during your high school time! The illustration by Sinan Hallak which accompany some articles are always funny, and even sometime help to understand the content of the article.

This was definitely not written for serious scholars, but the ones who love Beirut and Lebanon in general will enjoy the lecture of this sympathetic and sometimes inconclastic factual history of the Mother of all laws. A very light book to enjoy on the Corniche with a shisha and a delicious cup of lebanese coffee, to feel yourself a true Beiruti !


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