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This amazing book allows you to bear witness directly to Syrian dissidents’ and dispacees’ very personal accounts of the current crisis. After an introductory historical chapter by Pearlman, the narrative is conveyed through direct, first-person vignette after vignette, offered with no author commentary. Pearlman’s effort is in assembling the vignettes in a sequence that conveys the zeitgeists for dissident or otherwise disempowered segments of Syrian society under the oppression of the prewar Syrian regimes, during the excitement of the Arab Spring, the sense of freedom followed by the horrors of the Syrian revolution and civil war, and then very difficult but at times hopeful life in exile. As a reader you are left to soak in the intimate narratives, story-tellers’ interpretations, and all the attendant emotions. Then you draw your own conclusions. I found the book riveting and highly effective for building understanding what it means to be a dissident or outside the circle of power of Syria’s incumbent Assad regime.
Through the voices of the Syrians who have lived it, left it and want to return to their homeland, this account is a powerful vista of the varied positions of the people who are ‘visitors’ in sheltering countries. The presentation is powerful because it utilizes many readers to transmit the idea of identity.
A must read for the international perspective it imparts.