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The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria

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'May be...one of the first political classics of the 21st century' - Observer Samar Yazbek was well known in her native Syria as a writer and a journalist but, in 2011, she fell foul of the Assad regime and was forced to flee. Since then, determined to bear witness to the suffering of her people, she bravely revisited her homeland by squeezing through a hole in the fence on 'May be...one of the first political classics of the 21st century' - Observer Samar Yazbek was well known in her native Syria as a writer and a journalist but, in 2011, she fell foul of the Assad regime and was forced to flee. Since then, determined to bear witness to the suffering of her people, she bravely revisited her homeland by squeezing through a hole in the fence on the Turkish border. In The Crossing, she testifies to the appalling reality that is Syria today. From the first innocent demonstrations for democracy, through the beginnings of the Free Syrian Army, to the arrival of ISIS, she offers remarkable snapshots of soldiers, children, ordinary men and women simply trying to stay alive...Some of these stories are of hardship and brutality that is hard to bear, but she also gives testimony to touches of humanity along the way: how people live under the gaze of a sniper...how principled young men try to resist orders from their military superiors...how children cope in the bunkers... Yazbek's portraits of life in Syria are very real, her prose is luminous. The Crossing is undoubtedly both an important historical document and a work of literature.


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'May be...one of the first political classics of the 21st century' - Observer Samar Yazbek was well known in her native Syria as a writer and a journalist but, in 2011, she fell foul of the Assad regime and was forced to flee. Since then, determined to bear witness to the suffering of her people, she bravely revisited her homeland by squeezing through a hole in the fence on 'May be...one of the first political classics of the 21st century' - Observer Samar Yazbek was well known in her native Syria as a writer and a journalist but, in 2011, she fell foul of the Assad regime and was forced to flee. Since then, determined to bear witness to the suffering of her people, she bravely revisited her homeland by squeezing through a hole in the fence on the Turkish border. In The Crossing, she testifies to the appalling reality that is Syria today. From the first innocent demonstrations for democracy, through the beginnings of the Free Syrian Army, to the arrival of ISIS, she offers remarkable snapshots of soldiers, children, ordinary men and women simply trying to stay alive...Some of these stories are of hardship and brutality that is hard to bear, but she also gives testimony to touches of humanity along the way: how people live under the gaze of a sniper...how principled young men try to resist orders from their military superiors...how children cope in the bunkers... Yazbek's portraits of life in Syria are very real, her prose is luminous. The Crossing is undoubtedly both an important historical document and a work of literature.

30 review for The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    I’ve become very aware of queues. The queue at the ATM to withdraw money, the queue at the bakery to buy fresh bread and pastries, the queue at the supermarket check-out to pay for food and drink, the queue to get into the cinema to see the latest film, the queue to board an aeroplane to see the world. People, me included, complain in queues, always looking around to see if there’s a faster one, or if there’s an official we can badger to open another check-in or check-out desk. We look at our wa I’ve become very aware of queues. The queue at the ATM to withdraw money, the queue at the bakery to buy fresh bread and pastries, the queue at the supermarket check-out to pay for food and drink, the queue to get into the cinema to see the latest film, the queue to board an aeroplane to see the world. People, me included, complain in queues, always looking around to see if there’s a faster one, or if there’s an official we can badger to open another check-in or check-out desk. We look at our watches and stress about being late for some super important moment in our lives, forgetting that the queue we are standing in is itself a privileged moment, one to be savoured instead of whinged about. We are, after all, about to eat, drink and be merry, and yet we habitually wear grim faces, our mouths turning down more often than up. So, yes, I’ve become a little critical of my own complacency lately, and reading this book about some of what went on in Syria in 2012/2013 has increased my discomfort. 'The Crossing' tells of journalist Samar Yazbeq’s several clandestine crossings from Turkey into the war-zone of Syria after she'd been declared persona non grata by the Assad regime in 2011, and been forced into exile. The book is not an easy read, and not only because it is about war. The early sections are fragmentary, simply a series of anecdotes related by the people Yazbeq stayed with in the towns and villages she visited, anecdotes that do however give us a picture of what life is like for those who can’t afford to pay the the price required to exit the country, or those who have decided to stay because they are part of one of the many groups opposing the Assad regime, the spouses, sisters, mothers, aunts of the fighters. The anecdotes run into each other without much pause for comment, and the book seems as ragged and chaotic as the lives the author is bearing witness to, lives constantly battered by barrel bombs and sniper fire. Eventually, I grew accustomed to this lack of a thematic structure but by then, the author had found one, and the second half of the book is more clear-cut, composed of almost formal interviews with various battalion leaders interspersed with background information on the origin and history of their groups, and the degree of their specific religious affiliations. The author put her own life and that of her companions in danger again and again to approach the frontline and record these fighters' testimonies. I found her both brave and foolhardy by turns but incredibly lucky too as bombs exploded in her path again and again. At the time Yazbeq is writing about, 2012/2013, many of the groups opposing the Assad regime come under the banner of the Free Army. This army is composed of the battalions and brigades which emerged in each individual rebel town when the revolution began in 2011. According to the people from the Free Army whom she interviewed, they themselves are caught between Assad’s Forces and more fundamentalist factions, composed mostly of non-Syrians, who have been sent into their country to fight against Assad, and who are both feared and resented by native Syrian fighters. Yazbeq seems to have had less opportunity to interview the representatives of the non-Syrian groups. She makes it clear that as a woman, she would not have been able to approach or interview the more fundamentalist ones such as Nusra Front, allied to al-Quaeda, or the group known as Daesh, a self proclaimed caliphate controlling areas in Syria and Iraq, and the most feared of the foreign groups. She also didn’t interview any of the Shabiha, the armed militant supporters of Assad’s regime. However towards the end of her third sojourn, she did manage to interview a Syrian commander of Ahrar al-Sham, a militant group rumoured to have ties to Muslim Brotherhood though he refused to look in her direction and spoke only to her male companion. He, like the others interviewed, had nothing encouraging to say about any peaceful outcome in the foreseeable future. Since I finished this book, the Russians have entered the war in support of Assad, supposedly to help him fight the Daesh groups. Hearing that the Russians are also targeting the Free Army fighters in their already bombed-out towns and villages makes me despair for the Syrian women and children who can’t afford to leave their country to join the ranks of compatriots queuing endlessly at more and more borders across Europe and the Middle East.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jingga

    "The most we could dream of was to wake up in the morning and discover we weren't buried beneath rubble, or that we had avoided having our heads cut off at the hands of ISIS." - Page 253 This is so powerful and heartbreaking. Makes me understand about what really happens in Syria. Samar Yazbek's bravery and her mission to give voice from the voiceless reminds me of Marie Colvin, a woman war journalist that died in Syria when reporting. I will always pray that someday Syria will be free, the regim "The most we could dream of was to wake up in the morning and discover we weren't buried beneath rubble, or that we had avoided having our heads cut off at the hands of ISIS." - Page 253 This is so powerful and heartbreaking. Makes me understand about what really happens in Syria. Samar Yazbek's bravery and her mission to give voice from the voiceless reminds me of Marie Colvin, a woman war journalist that died in Syria when reporting. I will always pray that someday Syria will be free, the regime will fell and the victims who died goes to heaven. Aamiin.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Viv JM

    This was a country in name only, sliced up into areas controlled by rival military brigades, all of them submitting to the absolute power of a murderous sky. But here we carried on with life, regardless. Families plodded on, eking out a living under the lethal sky, among the barbarisms of the extremist battalions. Samar Yazbeck is an Alawite Syrian journalist, living in exile in France. This book details her experiences on the three separate occasions in 2012/2013 when she crosses back into her This was a country in name only, sliced up into areas controlled by rival military brigades, all of them submitting to the absolute power of a murderous sky. But here we carried on with life, regardless. Families plodded on, eking out a living under the lethal sky, among the barbarisms of the extremist battalions. Samar Yazbeck is an Alawite Syrian journalist, living in exile in France. This book details her experiences on the three separate occasions in 2012/2013 when she crosses back into her home country to bear witness to what is happening there. She stays with and interviews ordinary women and men, journalists and leaders of military brigades. She shows great courage and compassion. As you would expect, this is not an easy read. It is eye opening, distressing, shocking and absolutely heart breaking. An important book to help understand the war in Syria, sadly still very relevant today.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    I really think The Crossing is a modern political classic; a visceral reminder of what humanity can do, as well as a direct charge to all of us outside of Syria to pay attention and realise how complicit our governments are in what is happening. Heartbreaking, hard to read, beautifully written and incredibly moving, I will not forget The Crossing and Yazbek's haunting and honest prose for a long time. Essential reading. I really think The Crossing is a modern political classic; a visceral reminder of what humanity can do, as well as a direct charge to all of us outside of Syria to pay attention and realise how complicit our governments are in what is happening. Heartbreaking, hard to read, beautifully written and incredibly moving, I will not forget The Crossing and Yazbek's haunting and honest prose for a long time. Essential reading.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anuradha Iyer

    Heartbreaking. I have no words that could do justice describing the horrors that have happened in Syria. A beautiful country with an ancient history, it got thrown into ruins in the blink of an eye. While I cannot claim to know the whole story or even decide who is in the right, all I can say is that I felt guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, helplessness, disgust and horror when I read Samar's descriptions of the plight of Syrians. All they wanted was peace and to live their lives, but instead, Heartbreaking. I have no words that could do justice describing the horrors that have happened in Syria. A beautiful country with an ancient history, it got thrown into ruins in the blink of an eye. While I cannot claim to know the whole story or even decide who is in the right, all I can say is that I felt guilt, sadness, anger, frustration, helplessness, disgust and horror when I read Samar's descriptions of the plight of Syrians. All they wanted was peace and to live their lives, but instead, all they know now is bloodshed and death. I feel silly to even think reading Samar's words and shedding tears could bring me closer to the pain those embroiled in the conflict feel. My empathy if anything is shamefully temporary, as I have not experienced the wretchedness of a life like this first hand. If anything, her account has made me feel blessed for living in a safe country, free of war. At the same time, I feel helpless for having no ability to stop or change anything happening to this once glorious country. My heart goes out to all Syrians, and while I know this won't mean much (or even anything at all), my prayers are with you, and I hope you'll know peace as I do in your homeland one day.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bob Duke

    Perhaps the most depressing book I have ever read. The author details her visits to her homeland of Syria since the beginning of the revolution. She shows how the revolution with its aims for a civil society with religious tolerance has been hijacked by religious and ethnic hatreds. She has down this with great physical courage in avoiding the barrel bombs and missiles of Assad's forces and the perils facing a modern women presented by the rise of the Islamic fundamentalists. Many in the west wi Perhaps the most depressing book I have ever read. The author details her visits to her homeland of Syria since the beginning of the revolution. She shows how the revolution with its aims for a civil society with religious tolerance has been hijacked by religious and ethnic hatreds. She has down this with great physical courage in avoiding the barrel bombs and missiles of Assad's forces and the perils facing a modern women presented by the rise of the Islamic fundamentalists. Many in the west will only consider what is happening in Syria if it fits their own established ideological prism. Syria is far to complicated for that. A book written with such physical and emotional courage needs people to have the courage to read it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lil Jen

    One of the hardest and most heartbreaking books I've picked up. To have names and stories to this complicated war in Syria makes it more real. Everyone who want to know why refugees are leaving at such high risk should pick up this book. Powerful, pailful and yet there is still the hope of the human spirit. One of the hardest and most heartbreaking books I've picked up. To have names and stories to this complicated war in Syria makes it more real. Everyone who want to know why refugees are leaving at such high risk should pick up this book. Powerful, pailful and yet there is still the hope of the human spirit.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Death, devastation and despair permeate these pages. Having gone into exile after being targeted by the Assad regime, Samar Yazbek returned to Syria multiple times, illegally crossing the border from Turkey, to see for herself what her homeland had become and carry the horrifying and heartbreaking stories of the people she encountered out into the world. Not an easy read, but a powerful one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carol Douglas

    Samar Yazbek, a Syrian journalist who was forced to leave her country in 2011, returned incognito in 2012 and twice her 2013 to tell the story of the democratic opposition resisting the government of Bashar al-Assad. But Assad's forces were doing all they could to crush the resisters. This is a story of people forced to move from place to place in an attempt to survive endless bombings. Yazbek spends time in towns where ordinary civilians never know when they might be killed. Planes bomb daily. D Samar Yazbek, a Syrian journalist who was forced to leave her country in 2011, returned incognito in 2012 and twice her 2013 to tell the story of the democratic opposition resisting the government of Bashar al-Assad. But Assad's forces were doing all they could to crush the resisters. This is a story of people forced to move from place to place in an attempt to survive endless bombings. Yazbek spends time in towns where ordinary civilians never know when they might be killed. Planes bomb daily. During Ramadan, they come just after dark, when people are allowed to break their fast. Most of the people she talks with started out as peaceful protestors, then fought back after Assad started killed them and destroying their communities. She sympathizes with their decision. Some people were still trying to build community organizations in their towns. Yazbek herself was trying to organize women's centers. Often, one-time programs for children were the only substitute for schools that had long since been closed. She was frequently the only woman among male fighters who were anxious to keep her safe. That wasn't an easy task because she is an Alawite, belonging to the Shiite group that Assad belongs to and has favored. She had to be secret about that, or risk death. Although some Alawites risked their lives to oppose him, many Sunnis hate Alawites because of him. When she went to Syria in 2013, that problem had worsened. Sunni Islamists, many of them from other countries, were trying to take over the revolution and impose their version of Islam. The democratic rebels had to fight Assad's government on one hand and fundamentalists on the other. The rebels did have to cooperate with homegrown fundamentalists like the Nusra front. Women who had participated in the struggle on their own and those who had followed their husbands who were fighting deeply resented the fundamentalists, who insisted that they cover themselves though that had not been the custom in much of Syria. Yazbek is incredibly brave. I was overwhelmed by the many times she risked death so she could report what was happening to the outside world. Then I thought: This is her country. Wouldn't I do the same if it was my country? She lives in exile in Paris, angry that other countries have either turned their back on what is happening in Syria or taken advantage of it for political gains. This is an important first-person account by a Syrian. How many accounts of this by Syrians have you read?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    This was an emotional read that covers the point where things went from bad to worse for Syria. The author crossed into Syria (her homeland) three times during 2012 and 2013 to help implement some programs in support of women and to report on what was going on. In the first visit, the Assad regime was continuing it's mindless, spineless and senseless aerial bombing of those areas in Northern Syria where the rebels have taken control. The civilians live to suffer or to escape into Turkey. The rebe This was an emotional read that covers the point where things went from bad to worse for Syria. The author crossed into Syria (her homeland) three times during 2012 and 2013 to help implement some programs in support of women and to report on what was going on. In the first visit, the Assad regime was continuing it's mindless, spineless and senseless aerial bombing of those areas in Northern Syria where the rebels have taken control. The civilians live to suffer or to escape into Turkey. The rebels make slow progress on the ground but have no aerial support. 12 months later, the Assad regime continues it's mindless, spineless and senseless aerial bombing. The rebels are losing support and Islamic extremist groups including ISIS are now present and taking control of many areas. Their dream of an Islamic Caliphate is starting to come together. In her three visits, Yazbek is able to summarise the destruction of people, the shift of a rebellion for a country with civil liberties and respect of the individual to a war between Islamic sects. It is a sorry story of what happens when the world allows events to spiral out of control.

  11. 5 out of 5

    olaszka

    Probably the most important book I've read this year. Probably the most important book I've read this year.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Gillway

    Not an easy book to read, but one that helps develop more of an understanding of the violence in Syria. Civil wars are by their nature divisive, but when they turn into proxy wars, as the Spanish Civil War in Europe shows they can plumb new depths. This book allows you to see and feel the conflict from close quarters. Also, we here the stories and hopes of some of the combatants, who are witnessing the rise of ISIS. Loudon Wainwright wrote a great song called "Pretty good day" which embodies tha Not an easy book to read, but one that helps develop more of an understanding of the violence in Syria. Civil wars are by their nature divisive, but when they turn into proxy wars, as the Spanish Civil War in Europe shows they can plumb new depths. This book allows you to see and feel the conflict from close quarters. Also, we here the stories and hopes of some of the combatants, who are witnessing the rise of ISIS. Loudon Wainwright wrote a great song called "Pretty good day" which embodies that feeling of being so thankful that you're not living there in that war zone.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Esra

    very disappointed about this book, I was hoping to understand about the reasons and beginnings of the chaos in Syria and did not get a clue what is going on, the book is as confusing as the situation in Syria. Samar Yazbek has done all those visits to her country to do what, even that is not clear, if her only aim was this book, she could have stated that at least, she mentions some woman and children projects but we don't get to learn about them The only fact that comes out is that she hates As very disappointed about this book, I was hoping to understand about the reasons and beginnings of the chaos in Syria and did not get a clue what is going on, the book is as confusing as the situation in Syria. Samar Yazbek has done all those visits to her country to do what, even that is not clear, if her only aim was this book, she could have stated that at least, she mentions some woman and children projects but we don't get to learn about them The only fact that comes out is that she hates Assad even though she is an Alevite herself...I found the book totally misleading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    There was a distant flavour to the writing and a scattered sense of story which meant I wasn't able to fully grasp this book. Francesca Borri's Syrian Dust or Janine Di Giovanni's The Morning They Came For Us make for more emotionally resonant reads. There was a distant flavour to the writing and a scattered sense of story which meant I wasn't able to fully grasp this book. Francesca Borri's Syrian Dust or Janine Di Giovanni's The Morning They Came For Us make for more emotionally resonant reads.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tamara Covacevich

    Got it in a secondhand store in Andorra, it was a great read to get informed about the conflict and the humans behind it, an eye opener of how it evolved during the years. I give it a low rating because I did not enjoyed much the writing style, and even though I understand its a hard topic to compress into a book I think I would've preferred to have more context and less repetitive testimonies. Got it in a secondhand store in Andorra, it was a great read to get informed about the conflict and the humans behind it, an eye opener of how it evolved during the years. I give it a low rating because I did not enjoyed much the writing style, and even though I understand its a hard topic to compress into a book I think I would've preferred to have more context and less repetitive testimonies.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Neil Johnstone

    This book was brilliant very interesting topic obviously and the glossary of arabic work at the back and nice touch although after reading 200 pages its seemed like the same story repeating. So finishing was a struggle but a decent book in my opinion.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Better books are circulating regarding the many-faceted conflict with ever-shifting alliances in Syria. This book is a decent intro for those who know nothing about the Levant and dispels several stereotypes about Arabs, specifically Syrians, and the Muslim diaspora. Ms. Yazbek quashes Western propaganda regarding that part of the world, pushing the small percentage of religious zealots back along the fringes of Islamic society. Her condemnation of Assad is clear. What's blurry is Syrian public Better books are circulating regarding the many-faceted conflict with ever-shifting alliances in Syria. This book is a decent intro for those who know nothing about the Levant and dispels several stereotypes about Arabs, specifically Syrians, and the Muslim diaspora. Ms. Yazbek quashes Western propaganda regarding that part of the world, pushing the small percentage of religious zealots back along the fringes of Islamic society. Her condemnation of Assad is clear. What's blurry is Syrian public opinion of the U.S. and its allies as well as Russian, Iranian and Saudi intrusion into the country. These are important factors for why things have evolved in such a devastating manner. Hopefully, the book will motivate readers to seek out that information.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Reading Samar Yazbek’s account of her three journeys into “liberated” northern Syria in 2013-14 was a difficult, but in a way, necessary read. In her epilogue Samar writes “The outside world won’t believe that what is happening in Syria – which the whole world is witness to – is nothing but the international community’s desire to see its own salvation. Other people are dying instead of them.” The whole account is shocking, but beautifully written and translated. As the brutality and the sufferin Reading Samar Yazbek’s account of her three journeys into “liberated” northern Syria in 2013-14 was a difficult, but in a way, necessary read. In her epilogue Samar writes “The outside world won’t believe that what is happening in Syria – which the whole world is witness to – is nothing but the international community’s desire to see its own salvation. Other people are dying instead of them.” The whole account is shocking, but beautifully written and translated. As the brutality and the suffering goes on and on I wondered if I’d be able to read to the end but the way she tells stories and takes you with her kept me reading despite the human desire to look away and shut it out. As an exiled Alawite, from the same religious community as the al-Assad family and therefore deemed the enemy by many of the fighters she interviewed, she struggles with her identity and her place in the liberated communities of northern Syria. As an exile living in France she wonders where her place lies. Accompanying a group of young men trying to bring some education and entertainment to traumatized children she reflects: “Now, as I watched them and got to know them, I found I was starting to discover myself. The permanent roots that I’d thought I’d be able to tear up: my family roots and ties to loved ones, my religious and professional identities, my concept of nationhood – all those roots remained a part of me, they hadn’t been destroyed. I had tried to pull them up in an attempt to replant whatever remained of myself in fresh soil, ever-faithful to my lifelong devotion to truth and freedom.” While I was reading Samar Yazbek’s book I also watched the BBC 3 part documentary series “A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad” which is currently available to those with access to the BBCi-player.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paul Narloch

    Brave lady.

  20. 5 out of 5

    SUBRATA DATTA

    Probably one of the most disturbing books to come out of the seven-year-old Syria war. Syria war defies all logic and understanding. Inspired by the Arab Spring, it started as a peaceful uprising against the rule of Bashar al-Assad. Assad, heading the minority Alwite dictatorship, suppressed the protests violently. The protester, in turn, took up arms. Protests for a democratic change were soon hijacked by mercenaries and freebooters. Now come along Islamic fundamentalists – Nusra Front, Islam Probably one of the most disturbing books to come out of the seven-year-old Syria war. Syria war defies all logic and understanding. Inspired by the Arab Spring, it started as a peaceful uprising against the rule of Bashar al-Assad. Assad, heading the minority Alwite dictatorship, suppressed the protests violently. The protester, in turn, took up arms. Protests for a democratic change were soon hijacked by mercenaries and freebooters. Now come along Islamic fundamentalists – Nusra Front, Islamic State et al – with their version of “pure Islam” that unleashed a reign of terror. Add to the mix the Great Game politics with Iran, Russia, USA all joining the fray to advance their geo strategic interests. The result is that after seven years of mayhem you do not know who is right and who is wrong. The only truth that stares us in the face is: over 500,000 dead; millions are displaced; steady stream of refugees are heading towards safer havens in Western Europe (said to be the biggest migration since World War II) and an ancient country and civilization lying in utter ruins. Yazbek is an Alwite and lives in exile in France. The Crossing was written in 2013. Naturally, a lot more has happened since it was published. But it portrays the horror of what was – is – happening inside Syria in vivid details. The last seven years have disfigured Syria beyond recognition. In the years and the decades ahead, when the dust has been blown over and blood has dried up, people will turn to Yazbek’s book to see how a proud and civilized people has been torn asunder. The Crossing bears testimony to man’s cruelty to man in a narrative that is extremely heart-rending. A sad but necessary reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mu'az Alzouby

    I struggled to finish the book.. first, because it was so depressing and heavy .. she said nothing I didn't know .. but it was still heavy and overwhelming to read her insights. Samar conveyed the image exactly as it is.. which was horrible .. seems like reality is so brutal to be described transparently !! Well, after finishing the book, I think I understand why is the book getting more popular in the west than the arab world, or even among syrians themselves. To be honest, and I don't know how I struggled to finish the book.. first, because it was so depressing and heavy .. she said nothing I didn't know .. but it was still heavy and overwhelming to read her insights. Samar conveyed the image exactly as it is.. which was horrible .. seems like reality is so brutal to be described transparently !! Well, after finishing the book, I think I understand why is the book getting more popular in the west than the arab world, or even among syrians themselves. To be honest, and I don't know how subjective I am here .. It felt like Samar didn't feel so syrian in her trips .. probably never. I wouldn't expect a very different book if it was written by a french author for example . It felt like she was desperately trying to look for something in common between her and the peoply in Syria .. and in some occassions, I felt like she was trying so hard to hide her feeling of superiority among those people. Sometimes, I felt like she wrote this book for the west, not for arabs or syrians .. maybe thats why she was so happy to see people who smell good and have blue eyes ?! However, I do understand it maybe .. there is huge gaps between the social classes in Syria .. ( I myself didn't know that untill the revolution started) I do recommend this book for people who want to know what is going on in Syria .. because I think - fact wise - she maintained a good level of subjectivity. which seems so hard these days ! Not recommended for syrians or peoply who have good background about the situation.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kriegslok

    This is a truely manic account of a country torn apart by civil war and Islamist invaders musseling in on misery to up further the murder and brutality that have destroyed Syria. Samar Yazbek recounts her own and those who she mets stories of lives torn apart, visions lost, hatreds kindled and fundamentalisms running wild. I was reminded at times of accounts I've read about Cambodia and the rise of Pol Pots Khmer Rouge emerging from the inferno of ceaseless American carpet bombing to unleash eve This is a truely manic account of a country torn apart by civil war and Islamist invaders musseling in on misery to up further the murder and brutality that have destroyed Syria. Samar Yazbek recounts her own and those who she mets stories of lives torn apart, visions lost, hatreds kindled and fundamentalisms running wild. I was reminded at times of accounts I've read about Cambodia and the rise of Pol Pots Khmer Rouge emerging from the inferno of ceaseless American carpet bombing to unleash even greater waves of genocidal madness on the country. Yazbek captures individuals lost in the madness. On one level it seems like something new and terrible but this is just normal human behaviour which rears its ugly head the moment the conditions are ripe. It is perhaps just still a little more shocking because of the ease with which the horror can be distributed to an audience that quickly becomes bored and numbed by even such horrors. Undoubtedly another classic in the wall of books over the decades recording human beings limitless resourcefulness and bottomless cruelty towards our own species (never mind any other). Highly recommended if you can handle it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maud (reading the world challenge)

    [#74 Syria] You can tell that Samar Yazbek, Syrian author and journalist, wrote this book in a rush. She rushed to testify, to write down all these stories and interviews, and to make them cross different borders so that the whole world can read them. As a result the book lacks structure and can be a little challenging to follow. It reads more like a series of anecdotes. Yazbek, who now lives in Paris, goes clandestinely back to Syria three times to find her country shattered and torn apart by t [#74 Syria] You can tell that Samar Yazbek, Syrian author and journalist, wrote this book in a rush. She rushed to testify, to write down all these stories and interviews, and to make them cross different borders so that the whole world can read them. As a result the book lacks structure and can be a little challenging to follow. It reads more like a series of anecdotes. Yazbek, who now lives in Paris, goes clandestinely back to Syria three times to find her country shattered and torn apart by three armed forces fighting each other (and that was before Russia got involved). You just can’t wrap your head around that much destruction and death. You can’t believe this is happening right now in the world you live in. There were some incredible parts like this interview of one of Al-Nusra Front’s leaders. Also to all the people who are convinced that refugees are threatening privileges: do yourself a favor and read this book. They don’t give a flying fuck about your job; they just want to sleep away from the constant sound of bombings.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jade

    We read about Syria in the news, we hear the stories of bombs and refugees and horror, of revolution, ISIS, of Russian and US involvement, and it all appears so horrific, so incomprehensible. Samar Yazbek brings the crisis to the forefront of our attention and through her beautiful and factual prose tells the real story. The Crossing was written based on three trips to Syria between 2011 and 2013. Samar was wanted by the government but intent on telling the world the real story of the Syrian Rev We read about Syria in the news, we hear the stories of bombs and refugees and horror, of revolution, ISIS, of Russian and US involvement, and it all appears so horrific, so incomprehensible. Samar Yazbek brings the crisis to the forefront of our attention and through her beautiful and factual prose tells the real story. The Crossing was written based on three trips to Syria between 2011 and 2013. Samar was wanted by the government but intent on telling the world the real story of the Syrian Revolution, and the book portrays so many horrors, but also so much humanity amongst the rubble. This is a heartbreaking read, but necessary. If you are interested in learning more about Syria and exactly how complicated the war is, and why so many people are fleeing their country, this is a must read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    The Crossing is the firsthand account of Syrian journalist Samar Yazbek returning to her home country a couple years into the Syrian revolution. This books is powerful, eye-opening, and difficult to read. It took me several months to make my way through it because the raw pain and brutality the Syrian people are dealing with is horrifying. Samar documents her journey to visit on three occasions, ostensibly to help women start self-sustaining businesses. This is an intimate portrait of the lives o The Crossing is the firsthand account of Syrian journalist Samar Yazbek returning to her home country a couple years into the Syrian revolution. This books is powerful, eye-opening, and difficult to read. It took me several months to make my way through it because the raw pain and brutality the Syrian people are dealing with is horrifying. Samar documents her journey to visit on three occasions, ostensibly to help women start self-sustaining businesses. This is an intimate portrait of the lives of Syrians living with daily or near-daily bombing, numbing levels of tragedy, inhumane living conditions, and incredible uncertainty. She interviews men and women, journalists, leaders of militant brigades, and more, painting a vivid, very human picture of the Syrian situation. Words don't do it justice and I think this is a book that everyone should read. It is difficult, but well worth it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    If you want to understand the Syrian War--from the ground and the rebels perspective, read this. Written by a female Syrian journalist. An Alawite (same religious sect as Assad), who had separated from her family and emigrated to France/Paris. She returns to tell the story of the war from the front line, for the revolutionaries, the women and children living in rubble. The influx of jihadists that coopt the war from the Syrian rebels and turn the country in chaos and horror. Somewhat repetitive If you want to understand the Syrian War--from the ground and the rebels perspective, read this. Written by a female Syrian journalist. An Alawite (same religious sect as Assad), who had separated from her family and emigrated to France/Paris. She returns to tell the story of the war from the front line, for the revolutionaries, the women and children living in rubble. The influx of jihadists that coopt the war from the Syrian rebels and turn the country in chaos and horror. Somewhat repetitive at times, and you frequently wonder why she keeps trying to form economic cooperatives with the women in the midst of this disaster. But that's what this country and its citizens have lived with now for 6+ years. Well worth reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Slymandra

    [Around the World challenge: Syria] The violence and destruction in this book is worse than anything you can imagine. It's hard to believe that this is happening right know in the world we live in. My only complaint is that this book lacks structure, it's more of a series of anecdotes and you can tell the author wrote it in a rush to testify. There were some incredible parts though, like this interview of an Al-Nusra Front's leader. Everyone who's against welcoming migrants to their country shoul [Around the World challenge: Syria] The violence and destruction in this book is worse than anything you can imagine. It's hard to believe that this is happening right know in the world we live in. My only complaint is that this book lacks structure, it's more of a series of anecdotes and you can tell the author wrote it in a rush to testify. There were some incredible parts though, like this interview of an Al-Nusra Front's leader. Everyone who's against welcoming migrants to their country should read this book and shut their cake hole.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Essential reading for anyone interested in the ongoing conflict in Syria. Samar's journey to Syria ends in 2013 and it is incredibly disheartening to see how worse things have gotten since her time in the country. Focusing on three crossings into Syria between 2011 and 2013 this book gives the reader a first hand account of what life is like inside Syria. With firsthand reporting and eyewitness accounts Samar Yazbek provides an excellent account of the incredible struggles to survive inside Syri Essential reading for anyone interested in the ongoing conflict in Syria. Samar's journey to Syria ends in 2013 and it is incredibly disheartening to see how worse things have gotten since her time in the country. Focusing on three crossings into Syria between 2011 and 2013 this book gives the reader a first hand account of what life is like inside Syria. With firsthand reporting and eyewitness accounts Samar Yazbek provides an excellent account of the incredible struggles to survive inside Syria.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anette Øverland

    Not the greatest writing, but in a book like this it really doesn't matter. Syria's recent years are nothing but heartshattering, but also difficult to understand. These stories from different people of different regions in Syria have given me a whole new perspective of the suffering going on in this country. It's certainly a book everybody should read. Not the greatest writing, but in a book like this it really doesn't matter. Syria's recent years are nothing but heartshattering, but also difficult to understand. These stories from different people of different regions in Syria have given me a whole new perspective of the suffering going on in this country. It's certainly a book everybody should read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I had to read this for my English class. Brilliant book! It really gives an inside look of what is happening in Syria and Samar Yazbek gives descriptive details on her experience when there. She is an inspiring journalist and I am grateful to have read her story and the stories of the lives that she's documented in Syria. I had to read this for my English class. Brilliant book! It really gives an inside look of what is happening in Syria and Samar Yazbek gives descriptive details on her experience when there. She is an inspiring journalist and I am grateful to have read her story and the stories of the lives that she's documented in Syria.

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