Sitting at the center of the war-torn Middle East, Lebanon seems eternally on the brink of crisis. But what is the country all about? Why has this tiny, fertile Mediterranean country--smaller than the state of Connecticut--become a world symbol of violence and chaos, able to impact the superpowers? And how have the Lebanese been able to thrive as a society and culture in the midst of such strife? In "Spirit of the Phoenix: UnderstandingBeirut and the People of Lebanon"veteran journalist Tim Llewellyn looks to the people themselves for the answers. Wandering the countryside, the towns, and the streets of Beirut, where he lived during the country's civil war, he seeks out the essence of this diverse, volatile, fascinating land where many trace their ancestry to the ancient Phoenicians. The Druze, the Maronites, the Shia, Sunnis, Armenians, AlawitesLlewellyn encounters them all, talking with footsoldiers, priests, refugees, warlords, and gangsters to evoke the cacophony of narratives, cultures, and memories that resound throughout the country, Combining oral history, investigation, and personal observations, Llewellyn creates a living portrait of a people and celebrates the resilience, resourcefulness, and spirit that unite the Lebanese from the Hezbollah heartlands to Beirut's designer stores. "Spirit of the Phoenix "provides an introduction to the country's fractious politics and an unforgettable examination of an irrepressible people able to rise again and again from the ashes but never able to escape their warring neighbors and the violence of their region."