Tag Archives: Quillette

Life under the Islamic State

Review – The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from ‘Islamic State’ by Samer

The Syrian war has produced a great deal of writing, but little of real permanence. Most of its derivative works are journalistic accounts and dry geopolitical analyses. It has yet to produce a new novelist, poet, or memoirist of note, rather than simply providing new material for old hands. Some day, a great book about the Syrian civil war will be written – something that draws deeply from the conflict and sets the tone for a changed nation, region, and world. Such an era-defining conflict will have that effect. Continue reading

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A Memoir from Mesopotamia

Review – The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq by Emma Sky

The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq is a captivating book.  The memoir of Emma Sky, a one-time opponent of the war to topple Saddam Hussein, deals with how she administered an Iraqi province in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Baath regime. Moreover, she spent much of the following years in the country, working closely with the American military – the same organisation she and many likeminded individuals opposed so vigorously in the run up to the war. Continue reading

History and Memory in Syria

The Syrian uprising is on the verge of its fifth anniversary. To a great extent it has become the essential conflict of our times. Despite this – or perhaps because of it – the prospect of peace, regardless of some apparently encouraging signs from the United Nations, remains a chimera. Much – and understandably so – has been written about what Syria has become, and what led it there: the murders, the torture, the senseless slaughter, the almost inconceivable devastation.

There is no shame in this; it is necessary and I have done more than my fair share. But sometimes this analysis is insufficient. Sometimes it is better to write from an unconventional perspective; sometimes what is missing from the equation is a greater sense of historical understanding. Continue reading