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The New Lion of Damascus: Bashar Al Asad and Modern Syria [Hardcover]

David W. Lesch


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Book Description

11 Oct 2005
Is Syria a rogue state? How important is it to the fates of Iraq, Iran, Israel and Lebanon? This is the inside story. David Lesch has had unique and extraordinary access to Syria's President, his circle and his family. At a critical juncture in the history of the Middle East this is the essential account of contemporary Syria and its enigmatic leader. Bashar al Asad succeeded his father, Hafiz al Asad, as Syrian president in 2000. Inheriting a worn-down dictatorship, he soon encountered momentous regional and international issues involving the global war on terror and the growth of democracy in the Middle East. While Bashar seeks a seamless integration into a changing political environment, many in Syria fear the loss of the political and economic power they enjoyed during the reign of Hafiz al Asad. David Lesch's account of contemporary Syria and its leader is vital to an understanding of Syria's current place in the world, its past, present and future. The fate of Syria says much about what type of Middle East will emerge in the near future, and that fate is very much tied to Syria's young ophthalmologist-turned-president, Bashar al Asad.

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Review

"A first-rate analysis of the domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the Bashar al Asad regime, and Asad's mixed record in meeting these challenges" Dr. Robert O. Freedman"

About the Author

David Lesch is an expert on Middle Eastern Studies. A Professor at Trinity University in Texas, his many books include The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment.

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Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
27 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An apologetic praise of the Syrian regime 22 May 2007
By Hussain Abdul-Hussain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As in Seale and other Western intellectuals who take off to Syria to write a book there, the generosity and good treatment of the regime toward these people make them fall in love with the regime. You can tell from the very first page when Lesch was very much impressed when Assad replied to his emails.

Needless to say, I couldn't finish this book due to the enormous amount of praise that Lesch hails on the young Syrian president, the Damascus Lion. All that is good in Syria came from Assad and all that is evil came from Syria's enemies in the West. According to this book, the good-willed, kind-hearted Assad is sincerely planning to modernize and democratize Syria, had it not been for the Western anti-Syrian conspiracies that have so far thwarted all such attempts. What an analysis.

Also like the reviewer EDowson (MD) wrote here before me, there is no information about Syria. Perhaps if the author had access to some numbers, like the percentage of people living in poverty while Assad and his group enjoy accumulating enormous wealth, or the number of years anti-Assad opposition figures have spent in the prisons of the Syrian regime, perhaps then Lesch would have changed his opinion a bit. Most important of all, when Lesch writes about the lack of democracy and the nature of the tyrannical regime in Damascus, he does so without even blinking. As if Syria is destined to live under dictatorship and that the dictator himself should be given the chance to renounce his unlimited powers and initiate change. Don't buy this book!
5.0 out of 5 stars love this book 19 April 2014
By Susan J. Romer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love this book was very fair in the way they wrote about President Assad. Appreciated that it wasnt a negative propaganda tool to sway peoples minds. It expressed the good and the bad and gave some awesome history. Love it and is great for anyone that seeks to know the truth about President Assad. Not one sided.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but . . . 30 Mar 2011
By Daisy B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
for a more balanced, up-to-date, first-person account, read IN THE LION'S DEN: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria, by Andrew Tabler, which will be coming out in September 2011. The wait is worth it for the behind-the-scenes perspective. http://www.amazon.com/Lions-Den-Eyewitness-Account-Washingtons/dp/1569768439/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1301520629&sr=8-1.
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely 14 Nov 2008
By Sam Farah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A well researched and very informative book about Syria and it's new president. Syria is a strategic country in a very important part of the world. Mr.Lesch shed a bright light into that corner of the world
11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worshipping Assad 15 Nov 2007
By Christopher W. Wilken - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The introduction of the book tellingly includes a comparison of Bashar al-Assad to the author. We learn that the author switched careers, from baseball to academia, which, according to the author, is like Bashar, who suddenly became the President-in-waiting after his elder brother Basil was killed in a car accident. The comparison is a stretch, but it tells us of the author's ability to see Bashar al-Assad as a sympathetic character.

I am baffled and a bit confused by the lengths to which Prof. Lesch goes to defend the Assad regime. Every description of Machiavellian Stalin-like behavior is followed up by a lengthy rationalization complete with a plethora of quotes from regime figures. I expect analysis, but every piece of analysis following some act that most would find repugnant is merely an explanation putting the regime in a positive light. What confuses me is how a professor from a U.S. social sciences department can write something that would appear to have come right off the pages of "al-Baath" (the Syria Pravda). Academics ought to be striving for the ideal of objectivity; however, he appears to be striving to become part of the inner circle.

I found myself trying to hard to focus on ignoring the adoration for Bashar al-Assad and skipping to the geopolitical sections, but I was simply too distracted by the extent to which Lesch has fallen for his subject. Thus, I would repeatedly put the book down and pick it back up in an effort to finish a book that I started.

I bought the book at a book fair in front of the Assad library in Damascus, Syria in September 2007.
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