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Syria's descent into chaos since 2011 has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, while more than nine million people have fled their homes. In this timely account, John McHugo charts the history of Syria from the First World War to the present and considers why Syria's foundations as a nation have proved so fragile. He examines the country's thwarted attempts at independence under French rule before turning to more recent events: two generations of rule by the Assad family, sectarian tensions, the pressures that turned an aborted revolution into a proxy war, and the appearance of ISIS. As the conflict in Syria rages on, McHugo provides a rare and authoritative guide to a complex nation that demands our attention.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Enlightening' Robert Fisk, Independent '[Provides] a real insight into the political fragility that underpins much of what caused the current civil war - Remarkably prescient - At the very start of this enlightening read, McHugo makes the point that to the English-speaking world, Syria is a far off country which relatively few people have made a serious effort to understand. In writing this insightful and timely book, he has gone some considerable way to rectifying this neglect.' Sunday Herald '[A] very timely modern history of Syria ... McHugo provides the reader with a high level of sound analysis. Perhaps the most interesting contribution is his concluding remarks concerning the debate over whether new borders will be imposed on the region. The book is written both with academic scrutiny and with the empathy of an individual who cares greatly for his area of study.' Journal of Peace Research 'Providing historical context for the Syrian crisis, McHugo uncovers uncanny parallels between the pacification strategies of the French in the 1920s and the Bashar al-Assad regime today, exposing the continuous role of violence in the region's (flawed) state formation.' Raymond Hinnebusch, Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St Andrews 'A fluent introduction to Syria's recent past, this book provides the backstory to the country's collapse into brutal civil conflict' Andrew Arsan, St John's College, University of Cambridge 'Fascinating and timely, admirably written with original vision' Nikolaos van Dam 'An elegantly written popular history ... A work of great ambition, with a coherent chronological narrative ... Should be recommended reading for undergraduates, policy-makers and interested members of the public who wish to learn how Syria's different communities are shaping the current civil war and are likely to be shaped by it. [It asserts] innovative rubrics for processing the myriad horrific details which reach us daily from Syria's battlefields'. International Affairs 'Anyone with any interest in Middle Eastern history and politics must read Syria. There was a need for an accessible guide to the past century of history, which this admirably provides.' Geographical Magazine