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The Struggle For Power in Syrian: Politics and Society Under Asad and the Ba'th Party

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1860640247
ISBN-10: 1860640249
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris (May 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860640249
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860640247
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,706,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The author gives a brief but well-balanced account of the rise of the Alawites in Syrian politics. It focuses on the continuous discussion of sectarian interests this involves both in their own ranks and among their opponents. I understood many aspects of recent Middle-East history much better than after reading only such general overviews as Mansfield's.
The style of the book does not contribute to the pleasure of reading it. There are many small signs of it being translated from Dutch. To my taste, the text is somewhat overloaded with names, which might appeal more to specialists than to general readers.
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Format: Paperback
REVIEWED BY JOSHUA LANDIS, Department of Near East Studies, Princeton University
International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Aug., 1998), pp. 447-449
Published by: Cambridge University Press

Only a handful of important books have been written on modern Syria; and Nikolaos Van Dam's The Struggle for Power in Syria is one of them. When it first appeared in 1979 with the subtitle, Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961-1978, it rapidly set the terms for future debate on Syrian politics. With the recent publication of a revised edition, Van Dam, who has served as the Dutch ambassador to Syria, Egypt, and Turkey, has conscientiously updated his book. He has re-worked the original six chapters and the footnotes, and added three new chapters covering the last twenty years of Assad's rule. The bibliography is the best of its kind and should be the starting point for any student wishing to research Syrian politics. Although the book is twice the length of the original, it contains only a merciful 140 pages of text, making it ideal for serious undergraduate classes and indispensable to any Middle East collection.

The passage of eighteen years has only confirmed the intelligence of Van Dam's original thesis. He has demonstrated elegantly and simply that the coups and factionalism in Syrian politics of the 1960s must be understood in terms of identity politics rather than of class. At that time, Bacthist regimes were trumpeting their elimination of sectarianism and tribalism as meaningful social referents in Syria.

Arab nationalists, inclined to accept such claims, theorized about Arab unity and socialism as if an age of liberation were at hand. Ac-ademics, too, were swept up by the post-revolutionary optimism.
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