Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

by Sam Dagher
Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

by Sam Dagher


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From a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist specializing in the Middle East, this groundbreaking account of the Syrian Civil War reveals the never-before-published true story of a 21st-century humanitarian disaster.

In spring 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turned to his friend and army commander, Manaf Tlass, for advice about how to respond to Arab Spring-inspired protests. Tlass pushed for conciliation but Assad decided to crush the uprising — an act which would catapult the country into an eight-year long war, killing almost half a million and fueling terrorism and a global refugee crisis.

Assad or We Burn the Country examines Syria's tragedy through the generational saga of the Assad and Tlass families, once deeply intertwined and now estranged in Bashar's bloody quest to preserve his father's inheritance. By drawing on his own reporting experience in Damascus and exclusive interviews with Tlass, Dagher takes readers within palace walls to reveal the family behind the destruction of a country and the chaos of an entire region.

Dagher shows how one of the world's most vicious police states came to be and explains how a regional conflict extended globally, engulfing the Middle East and pitting the United States and Russia against one another. Timely, propulsive, and expertly reported, Assad or We Burn the Country is the definitive account of this global crisis, going far beyond the news story that has dominated headlines for years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316556736
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 04/14/2020
Pages: 592
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Sam Dagher has reported in the Middle East for more than fifteen years, most recently for The Atlantic. He was the only non-Syrian reporter for a major Western media outlet based in Damascus from 2012 to 2014, a period during which he was arrested by a pro-Assad militia and briefly held in an underground mukhabarat (secret police) prison. He was later expelled from Syria for reporting deemed unfavorable to the regime.

He has worked for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and Agence France Presse, and has covered the conflict in Iraq, the Arab Spring uprisings, and Libya. The Wall Street Journal nominated Dagher's work from Syria for the Pulitzer Prize and other journalism awards.

Table of Contents

Syria Map xiii

Damascus Map xiv

Inside the Palace xv

Outside the Palace xvii

Introduction xix

1 You're Next, Doctor 3

2 Embracing the Clouds 20

3 Creation and Punishment 35

4 Golden Knight 57

5 To Whom the Horses after You, Bassel? 78

6 New King and Early Spring 95

7 Hit Them Where It Hurts 120

8 Precious Interlocutor and Unavoidable Player 145

9 No More Fear after Today 161

10 The Conspiracy 179

11 Make Peace 191

12 You're Too Soft 203

13 The Hama Manual 225

14 Yalta Erkal Ya, Bashar! (Come On, Bashar, Leave!) 240

15 Don't Stay with the Butcher 260

16 Blood on My Hands 273

17 We Have to Win! 285

18 Exiting 300

19 No Role for You 314

20 Holy War: At Your Service, O Bashar! 330

21 The Clan's Knights and Soothsayers 345

22 Macabre Coronation 368

23 A Game of Nations 390

24 Abu Ali Putin 404

25 Daesh or Bashar? 423

26 Dictators Strike Back-but Hope Endures 442

Note on Characters 461

Acknowledgments 465

Notes 469

Index 537

What People are Saying About This

Syrian American doctor and President of MedGlobal - Dr. Zaher Sahloul

“The Syrian uprising has been one of the most consequential events in our new century—it has changed the world. Sam Dagher has been reporting from the heart of the crisis. His book, told through the eyes of two important Syrian insiders, a human rights activist and a former Brigadier General of the Syrian Republican Guard, is a vivid description of the crisis as it unfolded over the past 8 years. It is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand the complex world we are living in.”

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