In a time of great political change and unrest in the Middle East, this highly topical text offers a succinct account of the contemporary political environment in Lebanon. Tom Najem provides both a developed understanding of the pre-civil war system and an analysis of how circumstances resulting from the civil war combined with essential pre-war elements to define politics in Lebanon. Systematically exploring Lebanon's history, society and politics, the author stresses the importance of the crucial role of external actors in the Lebanese system. The analysis encompasses: * the formation of the state * weaknesses and dynamics of the Lebanese state * the civil war * post-war government and change * the Lebanese economy * foreign policy. Written in a clear and accessible manner, this book fills a conspicuous gap in the existing academic literature on Lebanon. It will be of interest not only to students of international politics and Middle East studies, but also to anyone travelling in or wanting to learn more about the region.