Synopses & Reviews
In January of 2011, President Bashar al-Assad officially declared Syrian society stable and the government immune to revolt. In the months that followed, and as regimes fell in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of ordinary Syrians took to the streets calling for an end to Assad's regime. Many lost their lives to the bullets of the president's army.
In Revolt, Stephen Starr delves deep into the lives of those affected by the Syrian state over the past five decades. Interviewing people from all levels of society, Starr gathers and interprets the views and beliefs that illustrate why Syria, with its numerous sects and religious diversity, has been so prone to violence and civil instability. Gaining unique access to a country that has been largely cut off from the international media, Starr delivers compelling, first hand testimony from those who have suffered and benefited most from the regime. Revolt reveals why many Syrians wanted Assad's government to stay intact as an alternative to endless civil war. It measures the long-standing gap between the state apparatus and its people and explains what led Syria's youth to finally stand up and call decisively for freedom. Starr also outlines the positions of the country's minorities and describes why many Syrians believe enforced regime change will only lead to region-wide conflict.
"Living in Syria for nearly five years has given freelance Irish journalist Starr a unique perspective on the current unrest. His fluent Arabic, ordinary routine, and innate caution enabled him to observe and listen to the people's voices, learning how Syria's 'complex mix of religions, cultures, and ideals,' embedded corruption, and vast wealth disparity have fueled instability. Wealthy Damascenes oppose the revolution because they fear changes to their socio-economic networks. Government propaganda has also instilled a fear of an Islamic takeover, especially among Christians. Yet, when buses stopped running; crops failed; and money, jobs, food and decent housing became scarce, protests were inevitable. The situation has been further exacerbated by the massive numbers of unemployed youth. Government response to protests or gatherings is always swift and brutal, delivered by an uneducated security force, but blamed on a 'cabal of gangsters' who were actually released prisoners. Starr intersperses his narration with the many voices of citizens who dislike President Assad but also fear civil war and who distrust outside help from western countries they believe will control them. Finally, he exposes the controlled farce of the Arab League observers. Starr's invaluable contribution clarifies the tragic quagmire that is Syria today, but, realistically, he is not optimistic about the future. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.