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‘Revolt in Syria’ reviews

Order the book on Amazon UK here, Amazon.com here and Kindle here.


The Economist

The Economist: “His material is vivid, thought-provoking and sometimes shocking … Given that the authorities knew who he was and where he lived, it is impressive that he spoke to such a wide variety of Syrians.”

The Guardian

The Guardian: “a vivid account …  fascinating … Starr’s strength was as a resident correspondent who had the time to get to know the man on the Damascus microbus.”

Foreign Affairs: “Starr, a journalist who lived in Damascus for five years, records his encounters with ordinary Syrians and with the state’s intelligence apparatus in an unadorned narrative of the Syrian street.”

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast: “[Starr] supplies a vivid picture of a tyrannical state that eradicated political opposition with chilling efficiency. But like the best reporters, Starr lets the people do the talking—and many of them side with Assad’s dictatorship against the revolutionary alternative.”


Times Literary Supplement July 13, 2012: “presents a very readable account of the chaos and confusion in Syrian towns and neighbourhoods”

The Irish Times: “Anyone interested in the complex realities that underpin the conflict in Syria should be grateful that he took the risks that he did in order to produce this impressive and insightful eye-witness account.”

New Statesman Home

New Statesman: “Starr s book is the only account that gives previously unheard voices a chance to be heard. … his familiarity with the sectarian and political milieu in Syria is better than anyone I know. The book is a witness to a dilapidated regime [and] Starr captures it all brilliantly.”

The Spectator

The Spectator: “Unlike most western reporters who have written from Syria, Stephen Starr brings to bear a great deal of personal experience of the country, having lived and worked in Damascus for four years, including a spell with the state media. He’s the sort of man who notices the price of milk going up and the increased presence of security forces on the streets as the noose tightens. With a wide network of friends and contacts, he conveys the warp and weft of daily life with an admirably nuanced understanding of the place.”

The National: “Starr’s well-informed insights and intimate knowledge of the intricacies of Syrian society and culture make Revolt in Syria a valuable asset for anyone who is striving  to understand this exceptionally, and increasingly, complex civil conflict.”

Publishers Weekly: “Starr’s invaluable contribution clarifies the tragic quagmire that is Syria today, but, realistically, he is not optimistic about the future.”

The Majalla Magazine

The Majalla: “One of the most compelling aspects of this book is the portrait it paints of everyday life in Damascus and its environs as the uprising begins to take hold. Starr adroitly paints a picture of denial, confusion and growing fear of the population of the city, as well as the passion for change amongst activists seeking a better life.”

Dublin Review of Books: “Stephen Starr has been able to shine an intriguing light on the lives of those who have remained: the police who augment their meagre earnings by accepting cigarettes, biscuits, water and tea from businesses on their beat; the café where menus are presented on an iPad; the Syrian journalist whose apartment comes with its own swimming pool.”

The Arab Review

The Arab Review: “Starr’s unique insight into the contours of Syrian political and civil identity provide compelling reading for anyone wanting to delve beneath the black-and-white media image of the current revolt.”

Gulf News: “Starr’s analysis and anecdotes combine to offer a powerful overview of the variety of forces at work in Syria, and he avoids over-simplification.”

Executive Magazine: “Starr had been based in Damascus as a journalist for five years by the time the protests broke out and had written almost exclusively about his host country. He had a detailed knowledge of the key figures involved in the regime and, having even worked for a state newspaper, understood what made it tick.”

Arab News: “Revolt in Syria takes us right to the heart of the revolution in Syria where the author has lived since 2007.”

European Voice: “Starr, who has spent five years in Syria, adds nuance that is often missing from foreign reporting on Syria, which makes the events narrated here even more terrifying.”


Syria Comment

Asia Times

Open Democracy

The Journal

Revolt in Syria

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Noam Chomsky: “This searching inquiry is painful reading, but urgent for those who hope to understand what lies behind the shocking events in Syria, what the prospects might be, and what outsiders can and cannot do to mitigate the immense suffering as a country so rich in history and promise careens towards disaster”

Syria expert Patrick Seale: “Stephen Starr’s four year stay in Syria as a sharp-eyed freelance journalist has given him unusual assets an uncommon knowledge of daily life in Damascus”

Revolt in Syria is a must read for anyone interested in the causes and course of the Syrian uprising. Stephen Starr plums the religious and class divisions of Syria with a keen eye for personal anecdote and broad truths. What is more, he entertains as he instructs; his prose is lively and his conversations are filled with insight and startling revelations” – Joshua Landis.

Fergal Keane, BBC: “Stephen Starr had a unique vantage point as Syria’s revolution unfolded. Written with insight and verve his book is essential reading for anybody interested in Syria”

Robin Yassin-Kassab: “Starr’s analysis is precise and well-informed – he offers useful summaries and contextualisations of Syria’s class cleavages, the fears and hopes of its ethnic and sectarian minorities, and the urban rural divide – but the book’s foremost strengths are its eyewitness reporting and the space given to ordinary Syrians, in all their variety, to speak. This account, therefore, has the texture and the drama of a genuine inside view.”

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