Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War

Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War

by Marwan Hisham, Molly Crabapple


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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.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399590627
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/15/2018
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 498,732
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Marwan Hisham is a Syrian freelance journalist who since 2014 has covered Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. His work has been published in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Intercept, and Foreign Policy.
Molly Crabapple, an artist and writer in New York, has drawn in Guantanamo Bay, in Abu Dhabi’s migrant labor camps, and with rebels in Syria, and received widespread praise for her illustrated memoir Drawing Blood. Crabapple is a contributing editor for Vice and has written for The New York Times, The Paris Review, and Vanity Fair. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

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Excerpted from "Brothers of the Gun"
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Copyright © 2018 Marwan Hisham.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

1 Coke Does the Trick 3

2 Religious Exile 8

3 Welcome, Spring 24

4 My Revolution 35

5 Romance of the Streets 40

6 The Masterpiece 57

7 Winter Is Coming 67

8 Dynamics of Powder and Bullets 76

9 A New Dawn 87

10 Jasmine 100

11 Tareq, It Was Never An Easy Life 104

12 Oh Brothers 114

13 The De Facto Capital 123

14 Jihadis Don't Tip 139

15 Abu Mujahid's Prosthetic Dick 155

16 Of Bright Dresses 163

17 Iphone Snapshots and Bombs 173

18 Al-Nuri Mosque 184

19 Why, Uncle? 200

20 The Merciless Jungle I Missed 203

21 The Aleppo of Yesterday 213

22 The Days That Would Never Have Been 228

23 I am a Murtad 243

24 Getting the Fuck Out of Raqqa 253

25 Hevalen 259

26 Al-Muhajireen Wal-Ansar 269

27 A Russian Feast 276

28 Journalist and Stuff 287

Epilogue: Goodbye 293

Acknowledgments 299

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