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No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria by Rania Abouzeid


No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria by Rania Abouzeid


Extending back to the first demonstrations of 2011, No Turning Back dissects the tangle of ideologies and allegiances that make up the Syrian conflict.

As protests ignited in Daraa, some citizens were brimming with a sense of possibility. A privileged young man named Suleiman posted videos of the protests online, full of hope for justice and democracy. A father of two named Mohammad, secretly radicalized and newly released from prison, saw a darker opportunity in the unrest. When violence broke out in Homs, a poet named Abu Azzam became an unlikely commander in a Free Syrian Army militia. The regime’s brutal response disrupted a family in Idlib province, where a nine-year-old girl opened the door to a military raid that caused her father to flee. As the bombings increased and roads grew more dangerous, these people’s lives intertwined in unexpected ways.

Rania Abouzeid brings readers deep inside Assad’s prisons, to covert meetings where foreign states and organizations manipulated the rebels, and to the highest levels of Islamic militancy and the formation of ISIS. Based on more than five years of clandestine reporting on the front lines, No Turning Back is an utterly engrossing human drama full of vivid, indelible characters that shows how hope can flourish even amid one of the twenty-first century’s greatest humanitarian disasters.

Selected praise:

Page after page of extraordinary reporting and many flashes of exquisitely descriptive prose. ... [U]nforgettable … Abouzeid’s remarkable journalistic and literary work has given us, at last, a book worthy of the enormous tragedy that is Syria.—Christopher Dickey (New York Times Book Review)

[An] unparalleled account of the Syrian uprising, drawing on six years of immersive reporting. — The New Yorker

Excellent. ... [P]robably the most perceptive journalistic account of the war so far, highlighting the individual stories while never losing sight of the broader situation and history. ... Abouzeid’s understated bravery and ability to merge into the background speak to the power of immersive eyewitness reporting, foregrounding the experience of the people she meets and writing with modesty. — Lindsey Hilsum (New York Review of Books)

The civil war in Syria is the most catastrophic event of our time, and the most dimly understood. Most journalists won’t go near it. Rania Abouzeid has produced a work of stunning reportage from the very heart of the conflict, daring to go to the most dangerous places in order to get the story. The result is a sensational book that allows us a deeper, and more humane, understanding of this terrible war; it’s a credit to Abouzeid’s bravery and fortitude. — Dexter Filkins, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Forever War

Rania Abouzeid has not just written a powerful human story of the most tangled war of our time. This is journalism at its very best: brave; personal; written with aching beauty. She has rewritten history’s first draft with great authority. — Lyse Doucet, BBC presenter and chief international correspondent

Weaving together the lives of mothers and sons, fighters and civilians, the oppressors and the oppressed in one epic journey, Rania tells the story of a nation in the grips of revolution and social upheaval. From the initial feeling of hope to the ultimate struggle for survival, this is an essential read not only for those interested in Syria and the Middle East, but for anyone who strives to understand the mechanics of a society torn by civil war. — Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Middle East correspondent for the Guardian

[F]inely detailed… a formidable accomplishment. — Publishers Weekly

[M]asterful, intense … Abouzeid’s altogether intimate, revealing, and moving accomplishment is essential to any attempt to understand this tragedy. — Booklist

Readers without familiarity with the many strains of opposition to the Assad regime are likely to emerge from this book a touch less confused ... An eye-opening account of those who 'played a pivotal role in the revolution's trajectory.' — Kirkus

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