Revolt in Syria: Eye-Witness to the Uprising, by Stephen Starr, 2012

            Stephen Starr’s Revolt in Syria is a first-hand narrative of the first 15 months of the Syrian uprising. Starr explores the underlying currents of Syrian society, from the intricacies of the much-discussed religious divides to more subtle separations—between city and village, between truth and fiction, between state and society—that sunder Syria’s people. Revolt in Syria gives a sense of being caught in the middle of a gathering storm: for a fear-gripped populace, for protestors, for the media, for the regime, for a confounded international community, and for Starr himself.

For Scholars

            Revolt in Syria stands out because of its personal perspective. Starr’s efforts to interview, interview, and interview in the midst of the uprising—as well as the account of his personal experiences, precautions, and fears—give his work a depth that few materials currently available can match.

            The text is organized thematically and semi-chronologically into eight main sections: impressions in Damascus; Syria’s minorities; the media; relations between state and society; socioeconomic factors; the youth; Starr’s own position in the revolt; and some musings on the difficult resolution of Syria’s many ills. Revolt in Syria is a critical work for scholars researching the current Syrian uprising, especially its first 15 months, but is also useful for those researching the underlying structure of Syrian society. Though it only directly engages with a brief time period, the sociopolitical scholarship of the book goes back decades and will likely retain relevance for decades to come.

Primary research applications:

  • The Syrian uprising
  • The Arab Spring
  • Civil-military relations
  • Durability of authoritarianism
  • Civil war
  • Media in armed conflict
  • Syria’s ethnic, religious, and class politics

Further reading in Oman Library (among other texts):

  • The Battle for the Arab Spring: Revolution, Counter-Revolution, and the Making of a New Era, by Lin Noueihed and Alex Warren, 2012
  • Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Africa to Iran, by Sohrab Ahmari and Nasser Weddady, 2012
  • The Arab Awakening: America and the Transformation of the Middle East, by Kenneth Pollack and Daniel Byman et al., 2011
  • The Arab Revolution: Ten Lessons from the Democratic Uprising, by Jean-Pierre Filiu, 2011
  • Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us and Why It Matters, by James Zogby, 2010
  • Contentious Politics in the Middle East: Political Opposition under Authoritarianism, by Holger Albrecht (edited), 2010
  • Commanding Syria: Bashar al-Asad and the First Years in Power, by Eyal Ziser, 2007
  • Inheriting Syria: Bashar’s Trial by Fire, by Flynt Leverett, 2005
  • Syria: Revolution from Above, by Raymond Hinnebusch, 2001


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