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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timely and Penetrating Analysis of the Syrian Civil War
David W. Lesch's "Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad" is a penetrating and accessible analysis of the ongoing Syrian Civil War. It is relevant, timely, predictive, and of great value to a wide audience. Lesch's writing style is approachable and direct. He effortlessly combines his extensive, on-the-ground research inside of Syria with relevant news and analytical...
Published 22 months ago by Nicholas A. Heras

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lesch's book is a disappointment
I was hoping for much more when I first got my hands on SYRIA: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF ASSAD by David W. Lesch. This country has been much in the news, and I've been following its deterioration quite closely. Beyond that, I've paid decades of attention to Syria since the time of Hafaz Assad.

So, when I picked up this book I was expecting some insights into...
Published 20 months ago by old new lefty


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lesch's book is a disappointment, December 13, 2012
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This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
I was hoping for much more when I first got my hands on SYRIA: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF ASSAD by David W. Lesch. This country has been much in the news, and I've been following its deterioration quite closely. Beyond that, I've paid decades of attention to Syria since the time of Hafaz Assad.

So, when I picked up this book I was expecting some insights into the structure and nature of Syrian society in general and the Baath Party in particular. After all, in examining any society it's essential to have some understanding of its deeper structures and divisions.

Instead, I got pretty much an extended feed of news releases that I've been following since the Arab Spring first hit Damascus. Now if you're totally ignorant of the situation over there, I suppose that this book has some utility. But for anyone who wants to find the underlying strengths and weaknesses within the Assad regime, or how different sectarian elements inside of Syria have traditionally supported (or attempted to undermine the Assads) -- you will not find it in this book.

The author makes a great deal about his personal contacts with Basher Assad and other high level Syrian officials. However, this is a very limiting perspective. It's somewhat like someone coming to Washington,DC -- interviewing some nabobs and trying to come to some conclusions about the nature of the USA. Such analyses are shallow, grounded in the "great man" theories of history. And unfortunately, I know almost as little about the nature of Syrian society as I did when I first picked up the book.

In the final chapter, the author tries to give some scenarios as to anticipated paths that Syria will follow given the current state of disarray in that country. And even here, he fails. While in other parts of the book he pays some attention to the nature of power politics on the international scene, in his scenarios -- the actions of these players is almost nonexistent.

For my money, I would have probably spent a wiser use of my time if I had perused Robert Fisk's old columns on Syria, or I'd gone to the BBC and Al Jazeera archives.

This book is superficial in its treatment of both Assad's power base and Syrian society in general.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good for a political outsider, but is lacking in explaining the social dynamics, January 9, 2013
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This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
The author isn't to blame. His style is definitely more impressive, and certainly richer than Dr. Ajami's "The Syrian Rebellion," but once again, the author is at a disadvantage of not knowing the deeper social dynamics, thus was unable to depict and relay those issues which helped create the Syrian sectarian dilemma.

As for a serious negative point on the book, it makes the mistake of trying to depict the Syrian despot as a ruler in a dilemma of trying to balance between regional and international pressures and internal demands for freedoms. The problem is literally far more complex than that, and it wasn't given enough attention in explaining why and how the Syrian public were mobilized by the cause for freedom and how it slid into civil war. The dictator knew precisely what the social dynamics of his nation are. Due to meticulous control of the dissipation of information in the country, the regime alone is in a position of omnipotence while the population in every city or every social group knows virtually nothing about all others. This revolution, unfortunately, was the first time in which Syrians began to communicate. Suddenly, an explosion of opinions and facts began to flow in all directions. At the same time, the regime used his electronic army of trained individuals to spread misinformation, foment sectarian hatred, all the while detain the level headed activists in the nation while providing the revolutionary with the seed to arm the revolution. It provided it with actual individuals to tickle those angry emotions that had been stirred from leaked videos showing humiliating treatment of religious proportions, which only help magnify the sectarian feelings that weren't necessarily uncontrollable. The regime helped steer the revolution into a direction it thought would play to its advantage but had no idea that it would be completely out of its control once it was unleashed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timely and Penetrating Analysis of the Syrian Civil War, October 22, 2012
This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
David W. Lesch's "Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad" is a penetrating and accessible analysis of the ongoing Syrian Civil War. It is relevant, timely, predictive, and of great value to a wide audience. Lesch's writing style is approachable and direct. He effortlessly combines his extensive, on-the-ground research inside of Syria with relevant news and analytical reports, creating a narrative that is lucid and well-informed.

Lesch very effectively describes the historical and contemporary socio-cultural and socio-economic realities inside of Syria that led to the rebellion against the government of Bashar al-Assad. His description of the failure of the al-Assad government's economic policies, and the social pressures caused by these failures in sparking the Syrian revolution, is particularly well-done. Lesch's analysis of potential future scenarios for Syria are practical and convincing, and emphasize the reality that Syria has been, and will continue to be, a genuine "cross-roads" of ethnic, sectarian, economic, and strategic interest for communities inside the country, and for the governments of its regional neighbors and concerned global actors.

This book is a must-read for all those interested in Syria and the wider Middle East. It is a feast of intelligent discourse for students of the Middle East, concerned policy-makers and their staffs seeking a well-balanced and unbiased analysis of events in Syria, and for a general audience simply looking for more background on what is rapidly becoming the Middle East's most complicated conflict in decades, with severe geo-political consequences for the entire region.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight and easy to read, March 21, 2013
This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
The book starts out discussing the promise and hope Bashar Al-Assad brought when he came to power after the death of his father, he was considered a moderate, someone who would bring the people of the country up. His people saw him as someone who wasn't all about power and corruption, and was grounded in his desires. Along the way, Lesch examines the mid-2000's, in which Al-Assad was seemingly struggling to hold on, enemies with Lebanon, the United States, and most of the international community. Al-Assad had taken steps towards repairing his image through partnerships, but was always on tedious footing.

This is a great examination of the ruling of Al-Assad, and gives readers a better perspective of why support eroded and how his transformation happened. The chapters are short, and thus easy and quick to read, but the research and ideas presented are in-depth.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Personally acquainted with the Assads, July 11, 2013
This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
Author David Lesch has a unique perspective on the Assad family as he has been personally acquainted with its members for many years. He writes a detailed account of his interactions with members of the family including Bashar Assad and gives a history of the current conflict. This book will be of particular interest to those who are studying the civil war in Syria as it details aspects that might not be covered elsewhere.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, December 10, 2012
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The author shows the inner dynamics of the conflict, the paranoia of the Syrian people that Assad plays to, and the divisions within the opposition.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it, May 25, 2013
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This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
The book gave me a lot of historical background and current affairs of Syria. After reading this book I came to know about the regime in Syria and some part of the world how they ruled their countries their own peoples.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Insight on Syria, January 19, 2013
This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
I've read several books on the Syrian uprising and this is by far the one to read if you want to know how it came about and progressed.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written by someone with the right credentials, November 11, 2012
By 
Glenn A. Carleton (Apple Valley MN USA) - See all my reviews
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I found this book to be an easy read, and highly credible. The author has a background that makes him perfect to tell the story. The journey he takes you on gives one a much better understanding of what is going on now in Syria. You can see the evolution of Assad as a person, from someone unwillingly thrusted into the position he now holds and having to adapt and learn quickly to just survive, to one who became arrogant and corrupted by the power and successes he had. It is not written like a history book, instead the style of writing has you feel events unfolding as if real-time. I appreciated the author's sentiments, his initial praise for Assad, to his disappointment for what Assad has become. I think it would be very hard to get the same sense of Syria's present events in another book on Syria, this one is so personal and close to the actual events unfolding.

It seems that so many books that have historical context (like this one) continually point out how stupid our foreign policy has been over the years, Bush a perfect example. This is another book that points out what could have been had we as a country a sensible approach to the middle east.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Who is the author??, June 19, 2013
This review is from: Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad (Hardcover)
I too picked up this book - from the library - because I am interested in the situation in Syria. The author provides some of the history, but what concerned me more as I read the book was the author himself. Who is he that he was given multiple meetings with Assad? He didn't work for the State Dept. nor did he appear in any official capacity. What we do know is that he is a long-time Arabist who is hostile to Israel and to elements within the US government that are friendly towards Israel. Were his travels paid for by Arab governments or organizations? The author gives us no clue. An author owes it to his readers to tell us what his stake is in the subject that he is covering.

Clearly, the author is as horrified as the rest of us by what is happening in Syria but for very different reasons. Our author was emotionally and perhaps financially invested in a better Syria and Arab world, which has now imploded.
The "Arab Spring" removed US-supported dictators and replaced them with Islamic terrorists.
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Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad
Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad by David W. Lesch (Hardcover - September 18, 2012)
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