(New York Times Book Review)
“Pearlman spoke with hundreds of displaced Syrians…. Common among the spare and haunting testimonies of these mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are the loss and reappearance of hope, humanity, and dreams of new freedom. This powerfully edifying work of witness is essential reading.” (Booklist (starred review))
“It’s unsurprising to see the anger not just toward Syrian president Bashar al-Assad but also toward the international community...Nonetheless, the book is filled with hope, informed by an understanding of the unity possible in spite of the discord sowed by Assad.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“A heartbreaking, human, and necessary book. Recommended for anyone who wishes to better understand the Syrian conflict.” (Library Journal)
“A timely and useful exploration into the events leading up to and following the Syrian uprising and ongoing refugee crisis.” (VICE)
“A gut-wrenching collection of true experiences of Syrians whose lives have been transformed, often torn apart, by the ongoing conflict. A breathtaking yet haunting work of nonfiction, this necessary book could not have come at a better time.” (Bustle)
“Profoundly important…Pearlman, an accomplished political scientist, has chosen to let her Syrian interlocutors speak for themselves. What emerges is a complex, engaging and difficult oral history, which deserves a wide readership.” (Mark Lynch, Professor of Political Science at George Washington University and author of The New Arab Wars: Anarchy and Uprising in the Middle East and The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East</stro)
“An important book for anyone who wants to understand the root causes of the Syrian tragedy…There are many different competing “realities” of the Syrian conflict and the many voices recorded in this book capture this perfectly.” (Andreas Krüger, Ambassador for the Negotiations on Syria, Federal Foreign Office of Germany)
“Incendiary—this heart-wrenching testament could not be more timely. Beyond headlines or breaking news or political posturing, this work of witness allows real people to expose Syria’s terrifying heart.” (Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway and Into The Beautiful North)
“The West has been repeatedly numbed to the human rights travesty of the authoritarian Assad regime—or worse, encouraged to think of its victims as outsiders—but these accounts fly in the face of that selfish idea.” (Elle.com)
“An important work -- vivid, moving, and unforgettable.” (Omnivoracious)
“A moving collection of personal accounts from Syrians covering the time before the conflict with Bashar Al-Assad to now.” (Rebellious Magazine)
“Pearlman’s book is not only important because it puts names to suffering, but also because it reminds readers—especially in the final segment, “Reflections”—that in the Syrian conflict, “there is no right or wrong,” only problematic “shades of gray.” A poignant and humane collection.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“To read these pages, to meet these men and women, is to cross a bridge ourselves, and to tremble: at the fragility of social order…but also at the love, anger, terror, trauma, compassion, endurance, awe, and determination a single human voice can convey.” (Larry Siems, author of The Torture Report and editor of Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s Guantanamo Diary)
“Pearlman masterfully stitches together a collective journey, stories moving seamlessly from one to the next...The disparate voices, ranging from defiant, funny, mournful, wistful, and tragic, form a complex narrative of the Syrian tragedy—my story, my family’s stories, the stories of the people and lives that we lost.” (Lina Sergie Attar, cofounder and chief executive of the Karam Foundation)
“A powerful must read book for anyone wanting to understand what’s happening in Syria and why it matters.” (Chicago Review of Books)
“A stunning mosaic of narratives told in vignettes of varying lengths. It’s hard to fathom the humanitarian disaster of the Syrian war. These testimonies—wrenching but also deeply hopeful—help us wrap our minds around it.”— (Fusion)
“As a vital and powerful document of suppressed perspectives, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled should be required reading for not just all Americans, but everyone.” (The Riveter)
“Pearlman’s collection is a chance to remind ourselves of the humanity behind the UNHRC’s ticking number of displaced people and what’s reported in the daily news.” (WBUR)
“[This] is a book to be read and reread…[Pearlman] has succeeded in the challenge of offering a humanistic account that does not dissolve Syrians into lofty or abstract rhetoric…their diverse voices remain clearly and unequivocally allied in their arduous struggle.” (Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian dissident, winner of the 2012 Prince Claus Award, and author of several books, including The Impossible Revolution, Syria in the Shadow, and Salvation O Boys: 16 Years in Syrian Prisons)
From the Back Cover
In 2011, against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, millions of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom and dignity. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal war that escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times, including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, incalculable destruction, and the flight of millions of Syrians from their homeland.
Yet despite the vivid reporting and powerful images that have emerged from the disaster, no book has truly allowed us to understand the conflict as Syrians have experienced it. We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, it chronicles the war from its origins to its present horror, solely through the words of ordinary people transformed by its unfolding. Parents, children, students, teachers, web designers, artists, playwrights, bloggers, poets, doctors, engineers, lawyers, activists, government employees, rebels, refugees, military defectors, prisoners, hipsters, Christians, Muslims, shopkeepers, grandparents—these are just some of the voices that cohere into a breathtaking mosaic. Some of the gathered testimonies are eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few commanding sentences. Together, they form a testament not only to the power of storytelling but also to the resilience of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.
“It was the revolution that allowed me to see people for who they really are,” one woman from Aleppo tells us. “It showed me that every Syrian has a hundred stories in his heart. Every Syrian is himself a story.” Here are some of those stories.