by John P. Hackenbroch
In 1913, the same year that this nuanced and colorful account of the Middle East was published, a group of Arab students living in Paris proposed an international meeting about Syria and Lebanon to discuss the decay of the Ottoman Empire, the part the European powers were playing in the region, Zionist settlements in Palestine, and the signs of growing crisis in the region. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed to be the sponsor. The congress was held June 18-23 and there were delegates representing all the major faiths, as well as a spectrum of political positions, and a hopeful discussion that looked to the future. Of course World War I began in July 1914 and the Arab Congress of 1913 was not replicable. Nor of course were the travels of John Hackenbroch in this volume. A hundred years have passed and the problems remain.