cover image Besieged: A Doctor's Story of Life and Death in Beirut

Besieged: A Doctor's Story of Life and Death in Beirut

Chris Giannou. Olive Branch Press, $12.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-940793-75-0

Giannou, a Canadian surgeon and self-described PLO member, garnered media attention in 1982 when he claimed to have witnessed atrocities by the Israeli Defense Forces (a claim that the IDF has refuted) during their military action in southern Lebanon while he was working at a PLO-run hospital. Now he offers an admittedly partisan and ``simplified'' account of his later years at a Palestine Red Crescent facility in Beirut's Shatila refugee camp, which was under siege between 1985 and 1988 by warring Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian factions. Giannou did not function as an outsider providing medical services: he also arranged secret gatherings among leaders of various PLO factions under hospital cover. Here he glorifies the guerrilla fighters on whom he operated and tells of meeting with PLO leaders of various stripes (from the more moderate to those who speak of ``liberating all of Palestinep. 82 ''); he even numbers members of Hizbollah--the Iranian-backed Shi'ite fundamentalist group responsible for hostage-takings and other atrocities--among his friends. In 1988 Giannou returned to Canada after realizing that he had gotten ``lost in his passion'' and had become ``inefficient as a doctor.'' Photos. (Mar.)