Plot/Idea: This memoir—recounting the author's trip to Beirut in 2006—contrasts the themes of war and romance, creating a captivating tension. The story invites readers to overcome their own life challenges and embrace the light of hope and new horizons, opening a window to a culture unique from Western customs.
Prose: The narration is inviting and convincing, with evocative metaphors and dramatic descriptions that will draw readers in immediately.
Originality: The story is based on the narrator’s personal experiences and memories, and the cultural vibes—as well as the author's reflections on his feelings—are authentic and skillfully portrayed.
Character/Execution: Readers will travel alongside the main character as he goes through many challenges and grows in intriguing ways. The authors build strong interiority, bringing the scenes and interactions to life in a way that many similar titles miss.
Date Submitted: January 24, 2023
Lost in Beirut: A True Story of Love, Loss, and War is a non-fictional memoir by Ashe Stevens and Magdalena Stevens. Ashe Stevens was beaten, hungry, and lost. He had gone to Beirut on an adventure but found himself in the middle of a conflict. Embroiled in this unexpected war, being an American can get you kidnapped, held to ransom, or possibly beheaded online for the world to see. He misses the comfort, the security, the feeling of freedom and safety he took for granted as an American. He never expected things to turn out this way when he accepted Danny’s invitation. He had seen Danny’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring 50 Cent to Beirut and took it. As a promising Hollywood artist, he thought this would change their lives, and in a way it did. He just did not expect his life to go south that quickly when Beirut was plunged into war. Now he has to find a way to survive and make it out alive!
Ashe and Magdalena Stevens amazed me with this extraordinary memoir, Lost in Beirut. A powerful and moving true story, the account took me back to 2006 and guided me through the mesmerizing and difficult journey Ashe Stevens endures as he goes from living the high life to fearfully and quietly moving through a desert, dehydrated and desperate to survive. This fast-paced tale is an absolute page-turner! The first chapter had me captivated and my interest built up the deeper I got into the story. This is a distinctive and skillfully written memoir that had me constantly at the edge of my seat. The details on the people and the setting were so precise that if I closed my eyes I could almost see myself standing there with the characters. This was an extraordinary, life-changing adventure, and it saddened me to have finished it so soon. Outstanding work!
Ashe and Magdalena Stevens’ Lost in Beirut is a true story of love, loss and war. It is a work of non-fiction and narrates the lived experiences of Ashe and how he managed to escape the war in Lebanon. Beautifully written, this impactful book will immerse you in the story and keep you flipping the pages, wanting to find out what happens next.
Set in 2006, in the socio-political context of the early 2000s with America at war with the Middle East, the novel depicts the truth of the racism, stereotypes, and prejudices Middle Eastern individuals had to face at that time. The story follows Ashe, a rising star in Hollywood, and his best friends, who get a chance to organize a gigantic concert in Beirut, Lebanon.
For the first few months, Beirut seems like a dream come true as he falls in love with Aleyna and Beirut itself. This bubble of bliss bursts when Israel and Lebanon abruptly go to war. Stranded in a country where being an American is equivalent to having a target on your back, Ashe and his friends experience the devastation of war in Beirut. The authors, survivors of this war, give a real representation of the Middle East’s political situation and war crises. The writing is powerful and evokes strong emotions in the reader. We follow Ashe through love and happiness and then devastation and grief, feeling these emotions with him.
Lost in Beirut: A True Story of Love, Loss and War is the true story that took Ashe Stevens fifteen years to overcome his PTSD and recount how he escaped the devastating war in Lebanon. Definitely, a five-star read, Ashe and Aleyna’s story will leave you feeling a riot of emotions. Violence, love, and grief have been written beautifully and leave a lasting impact on the reader.
Lost In Beirut: A True Story of Love, Loss and War is a work of non-fiction in the memoir subgenre. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author team Ashe Stevens and Magdalena Stevens. The book follows Ashe Stevens, an actor on the rise in early 2000s America, who accepts an invitation to visit his dear friend Danny who is working in Lebanon. The trip takes a turn for the fateful when a conflict breaks out that traps Ashe in a deadly warzone. His only hope is to make it to the Syrian border but dangerous threats are waiting at every stage of the journey.
Memoirs live and die based on the willingness of the author to be vulnerable with their reader, whether they can truly and honestly share a painful part of themselves and allow the world to see it. In this work, we see such a willingness from the dynamic duo of Ashe and Magdalena Stevens, who openly share the painful and profound parts of the story in equal measure and in doing so create an unforgettable journey through danger and spiritual enlightenment. The real-life conflict experienced through the events of the story provides a powerful backdrop to the author's journey of self-discovery as the real world outside the safety of Hollywood prompts them to grow in important and powerful new directions. Overall, Lost In Beirut takes the retelling of a painful experience for the author and uses it as an opportunity to shine a light on some of the more beautiful aspects of the real world, telling a tale as it does so that will inspire readers to go out and get to know themselves better.
Lost in Beirut details the epic of rising actor and jetsetter Ashe Stevens, who traveled to Beirut in 2006 for a business opportunity and found himself caught in the crosshairs of international conflict. Stevens and his spouse, Dr. Magdalena Stevens, partnered to write this memoir which hit shelves last month, 15 years after Ashe Stevens survived the original ordeal. Their volume stands as an art object in its own right, wrapped with vivid imagery. On its cover, Stevens streaks through the air, cannonballing into a crystal pool beneath azure skies punctuated only by actual, active rocket fire. The 252 breakneck pages beneath see Stevens navigating the archetypal inner conflict every human experiences, while uniquely in the middle of authentic conflict.
Lost in Beirut’s narrative starts in Los Angeles, where Stevens is studying at Cal Arts under the tutelage of a celebrated professor and mentor. “If there was ever a man made for the theatre, it was Rodger Henderson,” the book wryly notes. One day after Stevens is late to class, Henderson pulls him aside for some soul searching. Stevens says that when he looks in the mirror, he sees “a lost clown without a circus,” mist in his eyes. Henderson replies, “You have to go fill your vessel with the truth… your own story. Find your circus. You won’t find it here, in the safety of these walls and this country.
200 pages later, Stevens speaks to Henderson across an ocean, time and space, as he and his friends in Lebanon speed to the Syrian border under cover of night, escorted by ex-KGB agents in swift Benz’s from the 1980s. “Can’t make this shit up Rodger,” Stevens’s internal dialogue chortles through the adrenaline.
By age 28, Stevens boasts a burgeoning career in acting, travelling regularly and toting Louis Vuitton luggage full of designer fashions–Dolce & Gabbana, Chrome Hearts. His best friend, a “top L.A. club and concert promoter” named Danny, is organizing a monumental music event in Lebanon with 50 Cent on the banner. Riding on a leap of faith inspired by Henderson’s exortations to seize the moment, Stevens agrees to meet Danny in the Middle East–despite the protests of his family–acknowledging that death looms around the corner from us all at every moment, even though Lebanon’s prime minister had been assassinated in a car bombing just one year prior.
“They go to Beirut for the glory and get stuck there as the country is tipped into war overnight,” a press release for the project explains. The 2006 Lebanon War took place from July 12 to August 14, 2006. The 34-day conflict between Israeli forces and the Lebanese Shia Islamist political party Hezbollah sparked exteme rocket fire in both directions, compromising civillians and inciting terror. Eventually, “Ashe and his friends attempts an escape to the Syrian border, only to then be pursued by jihadists in Jordan,” the release continues. “After weeks of waiting for a flight out, he sits alone–shell shocked and exhausted–at the airport in Amman, praying he’ll soon be able to board the flight he’s ticketed for, and then continue home.” Of course, the protagonist survives, and even in the midst of this turmoil, moments of friendship, relief, and discovery shine through.
Ashe and Magdalena set out to finally put this story in words at the end of 2019, after Ashe had spent more than a decade dealing with the PTSD from his life-threatening adventure beyond America’s safety net. Months into their work, the pandemic of course broke out. Medical Dr. Magdelena Stevens was called to work on the frontlines during the crisis, providing urgent care. Nevertheless the duo persisted, writing every free second they could find. Lost in Beirut stands a testament to the power of facing life’s endless unknowns with unflinching bravery, compounded by the circumstances under which it was written.
This memoir also joins the canon of tales from Westerners who experienced conflict in the Middle East during those chaotic years following 9/11. The duo’s decision to wait a full 15 years before writing means Stevens benefitted from sufficient time to process this legitimately groundbreaking experience. As Stevens and his cohorts collaborate with an arms dealer to determine a route towards the Syrian border, their contact suggests first a speed boat, then a small plane. Suddenly they’re all struck by the impact this individual’s high-octane life has dealt on his decision-making capabilities, how he lives life like a game of roulette. One has to wonder if there’s something to that approach, if maybe Stevens and his posse would’ve survived the Israeli naval and air blockades on boldness alone. Risk and reward prove underlying motifs.
However, Lost in Beirut avoids glamorizing the actual turmoil at the heart of this conflict with bursts of astute observation. As Stevens and his friends enter Syria from Lebanon, they bypass an endless line of Lebanese refugees by virtue of their American passports. Stevens conjures a sordid comparison to the velvet ropes that opened for him throughout LA’s nightlife. When it’s revealed that one member of their party has stolen a passport, the revelation calls into clarity a crucial question: what would a human being do to secure that type of privilege, if they felt their life depended on it?
Lost in Beirut’s honest account of rigorous self-discovery comes suited to the specific COVID and (someday) post-COVID era that it hails from. “Now when Ashe looks toward the sun rising in the east, he can finally break a smile,” the release notes, “and Magdalena is once again filled with hope and the belief that everything happens for a reason.” It’s up to the reader to determine what those reasons might be. Available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions, Lost in Beirut aims to inspire the hungry souls like Stevens searching for themselves through every kind of unknown.
- American Writing Award for Best Biography 2022
- The Canadian Book Club Awards Winner for Best Memoir 2022
- American Writing Award finalist for Best Debut Non-Fiction 2022
- Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Notable Indie 2022
- Literary Titan Gold Award 2022
- Firebird Book Awards Winner 2022
- Chanticleer Journey Book Award Shortlist 2022