Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Revolt in Syria: Eyewitness to the Uprising, 2nd Ed

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Revolt in Syria: Eyewitness to the Uprising, 2nd Ed

Article excerpt

Revolt in Syria: Eyewitness to the Uprising, 2nd ed. By Stephen Starr. London: Hurst, 2015. 256 pp. $20.

The first year of the Syrian civil war gave rise to a number of books focusing on the uprising against the dictatorship of Bashar Assad, with many predicting the imminent fall of the regime. Revolt in Syria: Eyewitness to the Uprising is one such work, written by an Irish journalist who lived in Syria for a number of years before the uprising and who reported on its early stages for major Western newspapers.

Writings on the Syrian uprising covering only its first year have understandably become dated, so Revolt in Syria is best read as a period piece. In this way, Starr's contribution benefits from the journalist's several years of experience in Syria and his obvious acquaintance with both the geography of Damascus and the fabric of daily life under the Baathist regime. His account consists largely of a series of conversations with a variety of mostly younger Syrians, including activists in the uprising as well as sympathizers with the regime.

Despite some skepticism toward the regime, however, the author is not immune to illusions about Syria that were peddled before the country came apart at the seams. Some passages read like they were produced by the pre-2011 Ministry of Tourism, perhaps a reflection of Starr's work for The Syria Times, a government-owned English language publication. …

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