Growing up in Lebanon
by Riad Al Khouri
AMMAN — Recent events show Lebanon as dangerously unstable, but it was — and is still — also much more than that, including a lot of the cool stuff mentioned in “Hanna’s Diaries”. Subtitled “Coming of Age in the Land of the Cedars”, this book, in both the English language and Arabic, is by an American lifelong student of the latter whose career focused on the Middle East. Author John McCarthy grew up in New York City and Paris, reading in English and French. In 1964, as a young man he expanded his linguistic breadth by starting to study Arabic in summer school at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Afterwards, as a college student at Princeton University in the United States, McCarthy concentrated on the Modern Standard version of the language (also used in the bilingual “Hanna’s Diaries / Yawmiyat Hanna”), which he continued studying when he came back to Lebanon in the late 60s, thereafter living in Beirut till the mid-70s.