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Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad Hardcover – 3 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (3 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300186517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300186512
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 684,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"David Lesch is one of the very few outsiders who knows anything about either Assad or his highly secretive regime; all the other scholars of Syria are forced to look from the outside in."-E. Roger Owen, author of The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life -- E. Roger Owen "What separates this book from others on Syria and the Syrian uprising is the sense of immediacy that comes from Dr Lesch's long acquaintanceship with Bashar al-Assad and regime insiders and the anger and sorrow he feels about their betrayal of Syria." - James L. Gelvin, author of The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know -- James Gelvin "Detailed and thoughtful in the potential outcomes for this key Middle Eastern state."-The Bookseller The Bookseller "Personal knowledge and on-the-ground experience inform this behind-the-headlines chronicle of the Syrian conflict."-Kirkus Kirkus "Insightful, valuable..Understanding Syria is important, and David Lesch's book is invaluable for those who want to do so."-Philip Seib, Dallas Morning News -- Philip Seib Dallas Morning News "Lesch ably tackles Bashar's failures. He excels in explaining the underlying economic reasons for the Syrian people's frustrations with their regime."-Rayyan Al-Shawaf, Christian Science Monitor -- Rayyan Al-Shawaf Christian Science Monitor "David Lesch's Syria is timely, relevant, and to the point, providing the educated reader with everything needed to make sense of what is happening in that country... A major contribution to our knowledge of Syria and the Middle East. Anyone who seeks a real understanding of these subjects must read this book."-Andrew Rosenbaum, New York Journal of Books -- Andrew Rosenbaum New York Journal of Books

About the Author

David W. Lesch is professor of Middle East history at Trinity University. He lives in San Antonio, TX.

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ulrik Jungersen Walther on 3 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a truly outstanding and up to date account of events developing in Syria. It is well informed, balanced, based on high level access to both regime and opposition and easily accessible for both people familiar with the country and those, who are only acquainted through the Western press.

The book is a little long on current events and lacks a bit of a historical perspective. It is therefore probably best read in the company of a companion covering past events. Syrian contemporary history is both volatile and complex, why recent developments must also be seen in the context of history. Nor does the book cast much light on the Salafist's agenda in Syria and what consequences this may have.

This should not hold you back. There are plenty of shortish "monographs" out tree that provide these dimensions and Lesch has certainly provided us with the most insightful analysis of the political situation in Syria.

Go for it! It is worth it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Lesch's book is a disappointment 13 Dec. 2012
By old new lefty - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was hoping for much more when I first got my hands on SYRIA: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF ASSAD by David W. Lesch. This country has been much in the news, and I've been following its deterioration quite closely. Beyond that, I've paid decades of attention to Syria since the time of Hafaz Assad.

So, when I picked up this book I was expecting some insights into the structure and nature of Syrian society in general and the Baath Party in particular. After all, in examining any society it's essential to have some understanding of its deeper structures and divisions.

Instead, I got pretty much an extended feed of news releases that I've been following since the Arab Spring first hit Damascus. Now if you're totally ignorant of the situation over there, I suppose that this book has some utility. But for anyone who wants to find the underlying strengths and weaknesses within the Assad regime, or how different sectarian elements inside of Syria have traditionally supported (or attempted to undermine the Assads) -- you will not find it in this book.

The author makes a great deal about his personal contacts with Basher Assad and other high level Syrian officials. However, this is a very limiting perspective. It's somewhat like someone coming to Washington,DC -- interviewing some nabobs and trying to come to some conclusions about the nature of the USA. Such analyses are shallow, grounded in the "great man" theories of history. And unfortunately, I know almost as little about the nature of Syrian society as I did when I first picked up the book.

In the final chapter, the author tries to give some scenarios as to anticipated paths that Syria will follow given the current state of disarray in that country. And even here, he fails. While in other parts of the book he pays some attention to the nature of power politics on the international scene, in his scenarios -- the actions of these players is almost nonexistent.

For my money, I would have probably spent a wiser use of my time if I had perused Robert Fisk's old columns on Syria, or I'd gone to the BBC and Al Jazeera archives.

This book is superficial in its treatment of both Assad's power base and Syrian society in general.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good for a political outsider, but is lacking in explaining the social dynamics 9 Jan. 2013
By ndouchi - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author isn't to blame. His style is definitely more impressive, and certainly richer than Dr. Ajami's "The Syrian Rebellion," but once again, the author is at a disadvantage of not knowing the deeper social dynamics, thus was unable to depict and relay those issues which helped create the Syrian sectarian dilemma.

As for a serious negative point on the book, it makes the mistake of trying to depict the Syrian despot as a ruler in a dilemma of trying to balance between regional and international pressures and internal demands for freedoms. The problem is literally far more complex than that, and it wasn't given enough attention in explaining why and how the Syrian public were mobilized by the cause for freedom and how it slid into civil war. The dictator knew precisely what the social dynamics of his nation are. Due to meticulous control of the dissipation of information in the country, the regime alone is in a position of omnipotence while the population in every city or every social group knows virtually nothing about all others. This revolution, unfortunately, was the first time in which Syrians began to communicate. Suddenly, an explosion of opinions and facts began to flow in all directions. At the same time, the regime used his electronic army of trained individuals to spread misinformation, foment sectarian hatred, all the while detain the level headed activists in the nation while providing the revolutionary with the seed to arm the revolution. It provided it with actual individuals to tickle those angry emotions that had been stirred from leaked videos showing humiliating treatment of religious proportions, which only help magnify the sectarian feelings that weren't necessarily uncontrollable. The regime helped steer the revolution into a direction it thought would play to its advantage but had no idea that it would be completely out of its control once it was unleashed.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Timely and Penetrating Analysis of the Syrian Civil War 22 Oct. 2012
By Nicholas A. Heras - Published on
Format: Hardcover
David W. Lesch's "Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad" is a penetrating and accessible analysis of the ongoing Syrian Civil War. It is relevant, timely, predictive, and of great value to a wide audience. Lesch's writing style is approachable and direct. He effortlessly combines his extensive, on-the-ground research inside of Syria with relevant news and analytical reports, creating a narrative that is lucid and well-informed.

Lesch very effectively describes the historical and contemporary socio-cultural and socio-economic realities inside of Syria that led to the rebellion against the government of Bashar al-Assad. His description of the failure of the al-Assad government's economic policies, and the social pressures caused by these failures in sparking the Syrian revolution, is particularly well-done. Lesch's analysis of potential future scenarios for Syria are practical and convincing, and emphasize the reality that Syria has been, and will continue to be, a genuine "cross-roads" of ethnic, sectarian, economic, and strategic interest for communities inside the country, and for the governments of its regional neighbors and concerned global actors.

This book is a must-read for all those interested in Syria and the wider Middle East. It is a feast of intelligent discourse for students of the Middle East, concerned policy-makers and their staffs seeking a well-balanced and unbiased analysis of events in Syria, and for a general audience simply looking for more background on what is rapidly becoming the Middle East's most complicated conflict in decades, with severe geo-political consequences for the entire region.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great insight and easy to read 21 Mar. 2013
By dannyswafford - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The book starts out discussing the promise and hope Bashar Al-Assad brought when he came to power after the death of his father, he was considered a moderate, someone who would bring the people of the country up. His people saw him as someone who wasn't all about power and corruption, and was grounded in his desires. Along the way, Lesch examines the mid-2000's, in which Al-Assad was seemingly struggling to hold on, enemies with Lebanon, the United States, and most of the international community. Al-Assad had taken steps towards repairing his image through partnerships, but was always on tedious footing.

This is a great examination of the ruling of Al-Assad, and gives readers a better perspective of why support eroded and how his transformation happened. The chapters are short, and thus easy and quick to read, but the research and ideas presented are in-depth.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Personally acquainted with the Assads 12 July 2013
By R. Z. Halleson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Author David Lesch has a unique perspective on the Assad family as he has been personally acquainted with its members for many years. He writes a detailed account of his interactions with members of the family including Bashar Assad and gives a history of the current conflict. This book will be of particular interest to those who are studying the civil war in Syria as it details aspects that might not be covered elsewhere.
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