Trying to understand and explain the ins-and-outs of the Lebanon-Syria relationship is a difficult and often bewildering task. This new attempt by Osoegawa of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies provides useful information to students interested in case studies applicable to general courses on international relations. It is not recommended for those seeking answers about the dynamics of Lebanese political subservience to Syria.
The book's format suggests it was adapted from a doctoral dissertation that was insufficiently revised for more generalized audiences. Its structure is somewhat mechanical and comes with too many subtitles and redundant summaries. Most importantly, the book does not provide enough background information about Lebanon.
The contours of Lebanese politics and the country's interactions with the outside world date back to its independence in 1943. By focusing on Lebanese-Syrian relations from 1970 on, the author glosses over other important factors in the development of that relationship. Viewing Syrian influence on Lebanon in isolation from the changing patterns of foreign influence that went hand-in-hand with the creation of an independent Lebanon does a great disservice to anyone trying to understand the topic.
Despite this, the book is rich in factual information, illuminating not only the formation of expedient alliances with Syria by Lebanese politicians from different persuasions but also the ease in which they come to infelicitous endings. However, there is little analysis until the work's conclusion when the author explains the nuances of the sectarian divisions in Lebanon and how these shape perceptions towards Syria.