Revolt in Syria: Eye-Witness to the Uprising

Article excerpt

Revolt in Syria: Eye-witness to the Uprising. By Stephen Starr. New York: Columbia University Press, 20 12. 256 pp. $20, paper.

In each country, the events of what was once optimistically called the "Arab Spring" have played out differently. In Syria, the unfolding civil war has been a drawn out affair in which looming prospects have gradually translated into brutal realities. Observing this unraveling from its beginnings until February 20 12, Irish journalist Stancaptures many complexities in his eyewitness account. Starr chose not to chase the headlinegrabbing violence in flash point areas but instead focused on Syrian society during this time.

In January 2011, Syrian president Bashar alAssad told journalists that his proximity to ordinary Syrians would prevent major expressions of public disaffection. Thousands of lives have since proved such self-delusion wrong. On the other hand, the slogan of the regional revolts - "the people want the fall of the regime" - is too simple for the Syrian context. Many Syrians are anxious about the ramifications of the regime's collapse. By speaking with a cross-section of its diverse society, Starr captures Syria's complexities: Despite persecution and marginalization within the Syrian Arab Republic, the Kurds he meets are cynical about the prospects of post-Assad life. …