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A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution Paperback – August 28, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The best account of the revolution’s early months.”
(National)

About the Author

Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist, born in Jableh in 1970. She is the author of several works of fiction. An outspoken critic of the Assad regime, but also of what she identifies as erroneous perceptions of ideological conformity within the Syrian Alawite community, Yazbek has been deeply involved in the Syrian uprising since it broke out in March, 2011. Fearing for the life of her daughter she was forced to flee her country and now lives in hiding. Yazbek was awarded the PEN/Pinter International Writer of Courage Award in 2012, awarded to an author of outstanding literary merit who casts an 'unflinching' eye on the world. She is also the author of the novel Cinnamon (2012).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Haus Publishing (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908323124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908323125
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Clemens on August 11, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Translated by Max Weiss (who also won a PEN award, this one for the translation) and with a foreword by author Rafik Schami, the diary entries begin March 25, 2011 and quickly grow in urgency. As she tries to get into war torn cities to gather information, she shows her tenacity and her commitment to documenting the events of Syria’s civil war. The imagery stays with the reader, even one who has only a cursory knowledge of the issues in Syria. In April of 2011, she writes, “I try to find one woman, someone to speak with more easily, but there are no women in the street. When I hear women screaming and the distant sounds of gunfire I head back to the car. By the end of the day, I am going home with documents. Documents of flesh and blood, of wailing and bullets and the faces of murderers who don’t where they’re going” (21). I appreciate that Yazbek reminds us that the experience of war is gendered, that women and men experience war differently–in this case her discussion of mobility reminds us that women are often behind closed doors during revolution. I am grateful that she took the time in the midst of maintaining a life–and the life of her daughter–to document with detail and patience and dedication so that readers may be offered an opportunity to understand the suffering in Syria. Only a few months pass in the book–the entries end July 9, 2011–but the reader gains access to the mind of a brilliant writer, artist, and citizen. The book ends with a choice made for her daughter: “This is the first time I put my daughter first. All I want is to find an agreeable way to make the hardships all around me end” (255). I encourage readers to bear witness to the months in between this choice and the earlier entries, to see why Yazbek is so deserving of the accolades bestowed upon her.
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Format: Paperback
Samar Yazbek's A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution is the book that elicits strong feelings. For me, those were the feelings of disbelief that fellow human beings can inflict such pain upon each other but also the feelings of hope in the human spirit and its resilience.

Yazbek's book documents the first 100 days of the Syrian Revolution, which began with demonstrations in March 2011. As the conflict, which initially followed a `traditional Arab Spring scenario' with demands for freedoms and cessation of corruption, escalated into a civil war along sectarian lines, Yazbek analyses how that sectarianism was fostered. She also explores the beginnings of the Syrian refugee problem. A relatively small number of refugees in the period, documented by Yazbek, turned into hundreds of thousands of refugees and a few millions of internally displaced persons. The book captures the period when the exodus began.

Yazbek, through hundreds of interviews conducted with opposition leaders, reconstructs the events in Dar'a (in the southwest, on the border with Jordan) and Baniyas (in the northwest, on the Mediterranean coast), the two towns where some of the worst atrocities by the Syrian regime were committed. Yazbek also explores the roles of the Syrian army, the security services, and the shabiha (civilian sectarian militia) in the revolution.

Yazbek provides a perspective on the conflict that should not be taken for granted. She is an Alawi, of the same ethnic group as the president, but was shunned by her community for her oppositional beliefs. She is a woman and a mother in the revolution that we associate with pictures of young men in their 20s.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This author has done her country a great service by risking her life and her homeland to report through the medium of a diary the atrocities of the Assad regime. I will long remember and mourn for those Syrians demonstrating for some form of democracy. The cruelty will surely be recorded in modern history as the worst of any Arab country.
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If one were to judge the book just on the courage of the writer, then it would rate five stars. However, despite some interesting details and some literary flourish, the book drags on after the first 80 pages or so. The stories become rather predictable, the actors identical, the circumstances consistent. It brings home the brutality of the Assad regime as it hangs onto power, but it isn't something that continues to hold interest over time...
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