Murder, Mayhem, Pillage, and Plunder

The History of the Lebanon in the 18th and 19th Centuries by Mikhāyil Mishāqa (1800-1873)

Translated by Wheeler M. Thackston Jr.

Subjects: Middle East Studies
Paperback : 9780887067143, 330 pages, July 1988
Hardcover : 9780887067129, 330 pages, July 1988

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Table of contents

Part One: 1750-1804
Part Two: 1804-1820
Part Three: 1820-1830
Part Four: 1830-1840
Part Five: 1840-1873
Appendix A: Terms and Titles
Appendix B: Emirs of Mount Lebanon of the House of Shihab
Appendix C: Emirs of Hasbayya and Rashayya , Shaykhs of the House of Jumablat , The Mishaqa Family


The author's analysis of the internecine strife and fierce clan rivalry rampant in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries puts into perspective the turmoil into which the Lebanon has fallen today. This translation comprises the memoirs of several generations of the Mishāqa family. The author, Mikhāyil Mishāqa (1800-1888), a many-faceted individual, was raised in Dayr al-Qamar, then the princely seat of Mount Lebanon, apprenticed as a merchant in Damietta, Egypt. He served as financial comptroller to the Shihab emirs of Hasbayya and in his later years was a physician and consul to the United States in Damascus.

Mishāqa gives a vivid picture of life and history during the period. From his position he was privy to political deliberations and knew intimately the clan chiefs, pashas and princes who were the principal agents of change. The book contains information unavailable elsewhere of importance to political and social historians, on life during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Large portions of the original text that are of particular interest for the study of the interaction of the various ethno-religious groups that inhabit the area, were at one time expunged from the printed Arabic version as too sensitive, but are included in this comprehensive English translation.

Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr. is Senior Preceptor in Persian in the Department of Near Eastern Languages at Harvard University. He is also the translator of Naser-e Khosraw's Books of Travels (Safarnāma), also published by SUNY Press.


"It makes it clear, like no secondary work can, that localism, kinship, and clan loyalties are the essential ingredients of social life in closely-knit, small-scaled societies. This is useful not only for Lebanon and the Middle East, but also for the many parts of the world where pluralism still dominates. " —Leila Fawaz, Tufts University

"It is a fascinating eyewitness report of a decisive period of Lebanese history and constitutes a major source for historical studies of the period. The author himself was both participant and keen observer and provides us with penetrating insights into his own society and his own thinking. The English translation has the great advantage over the Arabic printed edition, in that it incorporates all parts of the original manuscript including those left out in the Arab edition for political reason. "—Thomas Philipp, Brandeis University