Cover image for No turning back : life, loss, and hope in wartime Syria
Title:
No turning back : life, loss, and hope in wartime Syria
Author:
Abouzeid, Rania, author.
ISBN:
9780393609493
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
xxi, 378 pages : map ; 25 cm
Abstract:
This astonishing book by the prize-winning journalist Rania Abouzeid tells the tragedy of the Syrian War through the dramatic stories of four young people seeking safety and freedom in a shattered country. Extending back to the first demonstrations of 2011, No Turning Back dissects the tangle of ideologies and allegiances that make up the Syrian conflict. As protests ignited in Daraa, some citizens were brimming with a sense of possibility. A privileged young man named Suleiman posted videos of the protests online, full of hope for justice and democracy. A father of two named Mohammad, secretly radicalized and newly released from prison, saw a darker opportunity in the unrest. When violence broke out in Homs, a poet named Abu Azzam became an unlikely commander in a Free Syrian Army militia. The regime's brutal response disrupted a family in Idlib province, where a nine-year-old girl opened the door to a military raid that caused her father to flee. As the bombings increased and roads grew more dangerous, these people's lives intertwined in unexpected ways. Rania Abouzeid brings readers deep inside Assad's prisons, to covert meetings where foreign states and organizations manipulated the rebels, and to the highest levels of Islamic militancy and the formation of ISIS. Based on more than five years of clandestine reporting on the front lines, No Turning Back is an utterly engrossing human drama full of vivid, indelible characters that shows how hope can flourish even amid one of the twenty-first century's greatest humanitarian disasters.

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Summary

Summary

Extending back to the first demonstrations of 2011, No Turning Back dissects the tangle of ideologies and allegiances that make up the Syrian conflict. As protests ignited in Daraa, some citizens were brimming with a sense of possibility. A privileged young man named Suleiman posted videos of the protests online, full of hope for justice and democracy. A father of two named Mohammad, secretly radicalized and newly released from prison, saw a darker opportunity in the unrest. When violence broke out in Homs, a poet named Abu Azzam became an unlikely commander in a Free Syrian Army militia. The regime's brutal response disrupted a family in Idlib province, where a nine-year-old girl opened the door to a military raid that caused her father to flee. As the bombings increased and roads grew more dangerous, these people's lives intertwined in unexpected ways.

Rania Abouzeid brings readers deep inside Assad's prisons, to covert meetings where foreign states and organizations manipulated the rebels, and to the highest levels of Islamic militancy and the formation of ISIS. Based on more than five years of clandestine reporting on the front lines, No Turning Back is an utterly engrossing human drama full of vivid, indelible characters that shows how hope can flourish even amid one of the twenty-first century's greatest humanitarian disasters.


Author Notes

Rania Abouzeid has won the Michael Kelly Award and George Polk Award for foreign reporting, among many other prizes for international journalism. She has written for The New Yorker, Time, Foreign Affairs, Politico, the Guardian, and the Los Angeles Times. A former New America fellow, she lives in Beirut, Lebanon.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* By the end of 2017, estimates of deaths from the ongoing civil war in Syria ranged as high as 500,000. The conflict has drawn in, to varying degrees, the U.S., Iran, Russia, Lebanon, Turkey, and thousands of religiously motivated volunteers. Abouzeid, an award-winning journalist based in Lebanon, has provided a masterful, intense, and often personalized account of this seemingly endless conflict. Early on, the Syrian government branded Abouzeid as a spy, so much of her reporting has been clandestine, and it is necessarily focused upon the rebel side and rebel-held areas. Still, she strives for fairness and honesty. Some rebel partisans see a democratic, pluralistic future for Syria. Others speak in frighteningly narrow religious terms and long for a caliphate that includes the liberated surrounding states. The most eloquent and heartrending portions of Abouzeid's narrative concern civilians who are embroiled in the carnage directly and simply long for its end. This isn't a hopeful story, and the solution may come only through the exhaustion of both sides. This account could have benefited from a presentation of views from the government side, but Abouzeid's altogether intimate, revealing, and moving accomplishment is essential to any attempt to understand this tragedy.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Foreign correspondent Abouzeid spins finely detailed and informed narratives of how life in Bashar al-Assad's Syria descended into street protests and the bloody ongoing chaos of the "civilian revolution." Abouzeid explores the revolt, primarily through the stories of young men who take on the regime, including Suleiman, a wealthy middle manager turned activist; Mohammad, a father imprisoned for suspected Islamist ties and subjected to grisly tortures; and the pseudonymous Abu Azzam, a literature student turned rebel fighter. She also conveys the plight of noncombatants, such as one young girl, Ruha, and her family, who escape to Turkey to become "business-class refugees," out of immediate danger but enduring the hardships of a foreign country while trying to aid those in their hometown across the border. The author skillfully sets forth the complex political and military rivalries between those supporting and opposing the regime, discussing their backers from Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as the foreign and homegrown fighters who became ISIS. In notes at the beginning and end, Abouzeid details her intense and perilous reporting process. She was banned from the country, she explains, soon after protests began, but nevertheless spent roughly three weeks a month clandestinely entering Syria for the next several years. Her grueling reportage is a formidable accomplishment. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In her debut book, Polk Award-winning journalist Abouzeid weaves narratives of very different individuals, along with their families and loved ones, involved in the Syrian civil war. Through the eyes of activists, instigators, victims, helpless bystanders, refugees, and ruthless killers, readers witness as Syria dissolves into a lawless territory with three main factions and their own competing subgroups: the dictatorship, the rebels fighting for democracy, and the Islamic extremists. As the war heated up, death was so commonplace that people became dehumanized, with casualties only known as the day's number. Abouzeid pens personal narratives as great family epics during a period of change, sorrow, and upheaval. Suleiman, a well-off young man, demonstrates the power of social media by posting protests online. Mohammad, a family man, shows how and why he turned to Islamic extremism. Ruah, a young girl, ends up a refugee in Turkey, alive, but still mentally in Syria. Abu Azzam, a poet, emerges as a leader in the Free Syrian Army. VERDICT A brilliant, detailed work on a devastating topic. For readers interested in narrative nonfiction, the Syrian war, the Middle East, and personal accounts. [See Prepub Alert, 9/11/17.]-Heidi Uphoff, Sandia National Laboratories, NM © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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