We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

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LONG-LISTED FOR THE CARNEGIE MEDAL

Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.

Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.

Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.

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About the author

Wendy Pearlman is a professor and award-winning teacher at Northwestern University, specializing in Middle East politics. Educated at Harvard, Georgetown, and Brown, Pearlman speaks fluent Arabic and has spent more than twenty years studying and living in the Arab World. She is the author of numerous articles and two books, Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (Nation Books, 2003) and Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011). She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins
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Published on
Jun 6, 2017
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780062654458
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
History / Middle East / General
History / Modern / 21st Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A bracingly immediate memoir by a young man coming of age during the Syrian war, an intimate lens on the century’s bloodiest conflict, and a profound meditation on kinship, home, and freedom.

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • “This powerful memoir, illuminated with Molly Crabapple’s extraordinary art, provides a rare lens through which we can see a region in deadly conflict.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

In 2011, Marwan Hisham and his two friends—fellow working-class college students Nael and Tareq—joined the first protests of the Arab Spring in Syria, in response to a recent massacre. Arm-in-arm they marched, poured Coca-Cola into one another’s eyes to blunt the effects of tear gas, ran from the security forces, and cursed the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad. It was ecstasy. A long-bottled revolution was finally erupting, and freedom from a brutal dictator seemed, at last, imminent. Five years later, the three young friends were scattered: one now an Islamist revolutionary, another dead at the hands of government soldiers, and the last, Marwan, now a journalist in Turkish exile, trying to find a way back to a homeland reduced to rubble.

Marwan was there to witness and document firsthand the Syrian war, from its inception to the present. He watched from the rooftops as regime warplanes bombed soldiers; as revolutionary activist groups, for a few dreamy days, spray-painted hope on Raqqa; as his friends died or threw in their lot with Islamist fighters. He became a journalist by courageously tweeting out news from a city under siege by ISIS, the Russians, and the Americans all at once. He saw the country that ran through his veins—the country that held his hopes, dreams, and fears—be destroyed in front of him, and eventually joined the relentless stream of refugees risking their lives to escape.

Illustrated with more than eighty ink drawings by Molly Crabapple that bring to life the beauty and chaos, Brothers of the Gun offers a ground-level reflection on the Syrian revolution—and how it bled into international catastrophe and global war. This is a story of pragmatism and idealism, impossible violence and repression, and, even in the midst of war, profound acts of courage, creativity, and hope.

“A book of startling emotional power and intellectual depth.”—Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger and From the Ruins of Empire

“A revelatory and necessary read on one of the most destructive wars of our time.”—Angela Davis
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In Sapiens, he explored our past. In Homo Deus, he looked to our future. Now, one of the most innovative thinkers on the planet turns to the present to make sense of today’s most pressing issues.

“Fascinating . . . a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the twenty-first century.”—Bill Gates, The New York Times Book Review

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY FINANCIAL TIMES AND PAMELA PAUL, KQED 

How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

Harari’s unique ability to make sense of where we have come from and where we are going has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. Here he invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential reading.

“If there were such a thing as a required instruction manual for politicians and thought leaders, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century would deserve serious consideration. In this collection of provocative essays, Harari . . . tackles a daunting array of issues, endeavoring to answer a persistent question: ‘What is happening in the world today, and what is the deep meaning of these events?’”—BookPage (top pick)
In the post–Cold War era, states increasingly find themselves in conflicts with nonstate actors. Finding it difficult to fight these opponents directly, many governments instead target states that harbor or aid nonstate actors, using threats and punishment to coerce host states into stopping those groups.

Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili investigate this strategy, which they term triadic coercion. They explain why states pursue triadic coercion, evaluate the conditions under which it succeeds, and demonstrate their arguments across seventy years of Israeli history. This rich analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict, supplemented with insights from India and Turkey, yields surprising findings. Traditional discussions of interstate conflict assume that the greater a state’s power compared to its opponent, the more successful its coercion. Turning that logic on its head, Pearlman and Atzili show that this strategy can be more effective against a strong host state than a weak one because host regimes need internal cohesion and institutional capacity to move against nonstate actors. If triadic coercion is thus likely to fail against weak regimes, why do states nevertheless employ it against them? Pearlman and Atzili’s investigation of Israeli decision-making points to the role of strategic culture. A state’s system of beliefs, values, and institutionalized practices can encourage coercion as a necessary response, even when that policy is prone to backfire.

A significant contribution to scholarship on deterrence, asymmetric conflict, and strategic culture, Triadic Coercion illuminates an evolving feature of the international security landscape and interrogates assumptions that distort strategic thinking.
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