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Letter: Commentator makes appearance in RF

To the Editor:

I'd like to alert readers to an appearance by a brilliant commentator on the Middle East, the Eau Claire based writer Cathy Sultan, at the River Falls Public Library on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

Like many Americans, I had only the vaguest notion what the turmoil and strife we so often hear of in news reports from Israel, Palestine and Lebanon is all about. Ms. Sultan's book "Israeli and Palestinian Voices" illuminated the human dimensions of that conflict, enabling me to better grasp its historical and geopolitical intricacies.

Ms. Sultan lived in Lebanon during some of the worst warfare and strife that country has seen in modern times. She possesses a rare talent for sorting the varied threads of the forbiddingly complex cultural and political tangle of the Mideast and rendering them coherent for her readers. She is not only an incisive thinker, but as her memoir "A Beirut Heart" demonstrates, a spellbinding storyteller.

At the River Falls Public Library, Ms. Sultan will be reading and discussing her most recent volume, "Tragedy in South Lebanon," about the disastrous Israel-Lebanon war of summer 2006. For an invaluable inside perspective on a part of the world whose fate crucially affects our own, I recommend this clear and gifted writer.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls, WI