Syria is once again the focus of the worlds media, a bloody conflict that has raged for two and a half years, the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime has been splashed over the front pages of every newspaper from Abu Dhabi to Aberdeen, expert analysis on every channel.
So now we all know Syria, we all know the awful atrocities committed by both side, the evil dictator and bearded Jihadi nutters, neither side gaining much in the way of sympathy.
I don’t see the Syria I lived in for ten years and I hear little understanding of the roots of the crisis.
So perhaps its time to recommend some enlightened reading on the subject.
Stephen Starr is a good friend and has written probably one of the most important books on Syria, he lived and worked in Damascus for the best part of five years and the book reflects his understanding of Syrian society during the beginning of the revolution, not written from a squeaky leather chair in academia but from the streets of Damascus.
Am in good company when I recommend it:
Noam Chomsky: “This searching inquiry is painful reading, but urgent for those who hope to understand what lies behind the shocking events in Syria, what the prospects might be, and what outsiders can and cannot do to mitigate the immense suffering as a country so rich in history and promise careens towards disaster”
Syria expert Patrick Seale: “Stephen Starr’s four year stay in Syria as a sharp-eyed freelance journalist has given him unusual assets an uncommon knowledge of daily life in Damascus”
“Revolt in Syria is a must read for anyone interested in the causes and course of the Syrian uprising. Stephen Starr plums the religious and class divisions of Syria with a keen eye for personal anecdote and broad truths. What is more, he entertains as he instructs; his prose is lively and his conversations are filled with insight and startling revelations” – Joshua Landis.
Fergal Keane, BBC: “Stephen Starr had a unique vantage point as Syria’s revolution unfolded. Written with insight and verve his book is essential reading for anybody interested in Syria”
Robin Yassin-Kassab: “Starr’s analysis is precise and well-informed – he offers useful summaries and contextualisations of Syria’s class cleavages, the fears and hopes of its ethnic and sectarian minorities, and the urban rural divide – but the book’s foremost strengths are its eyewitness reporting and the space given to ordinary Syrians, in all their variety, to speak. This account, therefore, has the texture and the drama of a genuine inside view.”