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Burning Country

Burning Country

Syrians in Revolution and War

by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami

A vivid look at a modern-day political and humanitarian nightmare.

*Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2017*

In 2011, many Syrians took to the streets of Damascus to demand the overthrow of the government of Bashar al-Assad. Today, much of Syria has become a war zone where foreign journalists find it almost impossible to report on life in this devastated land.

Burning Country explores the horrific and complicated reality of life in present-day Syria with unprecedented detail and sophistication, drawing on new first hand testimonies from opposition fighters, exiles lost in an archipelago of refugee camps, and courageous human rights activists among many others. These stories are expertly interwoven with a trenchant analysis of the brutalisation of the conflict and the militarisation of the uprising, of the rise of the Islamists and sectarian warfare, and the role of governments in Syria and elsewhere in exacerbating those violent processes.

With chapters focusing on ISIS and Islamism, regional geopolitics, the new grassroots revolutionary organisations, and the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, Burning Country is a vivid and groundbreaking look at a modern-day political and humanitarian nightmare.

Robin Yassin-Kassab is a regular media commentator on Syria and the Middle East. He is the co-author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War (Pluto, 2016, 2018) and author of the novel The Road from Damascus (Penguin, 2009) and contributor to Syria Speaks (Saqi, 2014).

Leila Al-Shami has worked with the human rights movement in Syria and across in the Middle East. She is the co-author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War (Pluto, 2016, 2018) and a founding member of Tahrir-ICN, a network that aimed to connect anti-authoritarian struggles across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

'The most succinct and convincing insider's narrative of the uprising'

- Richard Spencer, Daily Telegraph

'Full of fascinating details'

- Robyn Cresswell - The New York Review of Books

'Extraordinary ... the book on Syria I was waiting for'

- Molly Crabapple, artist, author, journalist

'Gripping ... Cutting through the fog of geopolitics, Burning Country refocuses the conflict with the people at its centre'

- Brian Whitaker, Newsweek

'A detailed history of Syria's moderate opposition and a meticulous analysis of the origins of today's violent dynamics'

- New Statesman

'Explores how Syria's peaceful uprising gave way to armed insurgency and sectarian jihad... This is an important, honest and insightful book, well worth anyone's time'

- Marc Lynch, Washington Post

'Avoids the easy indulgence of indignation; instead, it elicits the voices of many different Syrians involved in the uprising, acknowledging their suffering as well as their courage, intelligence, and humanity, while explaining the terrible choices that have been forced on them'

- Ursula Lindsey, The Nation


- Peter Geoghegan - the Herald Scotland

'For decades Syrians have been forbidden from telling their own stories and the story of their country, but here Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila al-Shami tell the Syrian story'

- Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian writer, intellectual, and former political prisoner

'By far the best account of the Syrian uprising yet'

- Dr. Yasser Munif, Professor of sociology at Emerson College, co-founder of the Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution

List of Abbreviations
1. Revolution From Above
2. Bashaar’s First Decade
3. Revolution From Below
4. The Grassroots
5. Militarisation and Liberation
6. Scorched Earth: The Rise of the Islamisms
7. Dispossession and Exile
8. Culture Revolutionised
9. The Failure of the Elites
10. The Start of Solidarity
11. Syria Dismantled
Further Reading

Published by Pluto Press in Feb 2018
Paperback ISBN: 9780745337821
eBook ISBN: 9781786802798

135mm x 215mm

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