Not an easy read, but an excellent one. Di Giovanni invites to take part in her mission, to be a witness to the brutality of war, to the corruption of governments, to the clash of ideology that leads to thousands and thousands of deaths and even more people displaced and haunted. Di Giovanni has years of war reporting under her belt, and you can feel her despair as she asks when we will see the past, when we will learn from it. This is an important read for anyone who wants to understand the refugee crisis the world is facing, and the conditions people are facing when they decide to flee.
One of the most personal (from a foreigner's point of view) and best books about the war in Syria. It gives a clear eyed view of different sides, and di Giovanni - with her long experience in war zones - is deeply self aware too.
If you haven't read any Syrian history, or at least middle eastern history, you may find this book confusing and meandering. But if you have a general idea about the history of the region, this book will make you feel as though you've been on a guided tour.
There were times when this book was so harrowing, I had to put it down and take a break from the descriptions. Janine Di Giovanni does not shy away from painting a real picture (with interviews from real people) of the war in Syria. Torture, bombings, rape, murder... It is a tragic tale and one in which I feel more Americans should educate themselves. I do wish Giovanni had given more historical background of the war, the Arab Spring, and Assad himself. She takes off from the gate and writes in a way that assumes the reader has the same knowledge she does. In those times, the book can become confusing. But, she is a reporter, not a historian, so if you're not familiar with how and why the war started, you may find yourself doing some extra research while you read. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be frustrating at times.
Very bad writing, essentially at a high school level. Disorganized, incoherent, rambling, speculative, dramatic. I suggest readers just look to their newspapers to learn about this subject. (Maps are bad too, disoriented, and lacking locations for places mentioned in text)
Right now, Syria isn't so much a place that people jet off to as it is a place they escape from. Even so, armchair travelers can visit via award-winning foreign correspondent Janine di Giovanni's latest book. Taking readers on an eye-opening journey to the troubled country ruled by a dictator and riven by civil war, di Giovanni describes the brutality of post-Arab Spring life here. Having been based in the Middle East for over two decades, she knows Syria and evocatively shows it to readers through the stories of everyday people, including doctors, nuns, activists, a baker, a musician, and a student. A "brilliant, necessary book" says Kirkus Reviews.
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