Despite being known in the west for its paramilitary wing, Hezbollah is in fact a complex organisation that maintains media networks, hospitals, schools and other projects. After the devastating damage inflicted on Lebanon by Israel in 2006, Hezbollah has managed an efficient reconstruction project that has completely transformed the southern suburbs of Beirut, promising brand-spanking new apartments for all those who lost their homes in Israel’s onslaught- including any Sunni Muslims and Christians. In fact, Hezbollah institutions including hospitals will not turn a non-Muslim away from its doors.
Hezbollah, a short history correctly traces the origins and influences of Hezbollah and dispels the many stereotypes that often accompany western media coverage of the organisation. Whilst acknowledging influences from Iran, Norton is also keen to stress the role of Lebanese nationalism and the Shia struggle for political representation that had been gaining momentum before Hezbollah arrived on the scene.
Despite being written by an academic, the book is concise and approachable, an ideal introduction to the subject.