The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria Hardcover – 25 Feb 2016
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At once necessary, difficult and elating. Her reporting from the Syrian revolution and war is clear-eyed and engaged in the best sense - engaged in the human realm rather than the abstractly political. . . . Such reporters as Giovanni, who not only visit but also live (and often die) through wars not their own, are heroic (Robin Yassin-Kassab Guardian)
Devastating . . . . Like the work of the Belarussian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, Ms. di Giovanni's book gives voice to ordinary people living through a dark time in history ... Ms. di Giovanni writes here with urgency and anguish ... Her testimony is contained here in this searing and necessary book (Michiko Kakutani New York Times)
Di Giovanni writes vividly and we see with her how Damascene supporters of Assad drift away as the brutality of his rule became impossible to deny ... Di Giovanni explains to us how horrible it all really is (Evening Standard)
Precisely observed. The strength of the writing comes out in the more subtle moments. Di Giovanni's [book] is full of passion and self-questioning (Roger Boyes The Times)
This is a desperately sad book but it's a vital read ... **** (Mail on Sunday)
Di Giovanni is responsible for some of the most poetic reportage from Syria . Her writing stays with you (New Statesman)
Heart-breaking . Di Giovanni confronts the nightmarish subject of sexual violence as a means of terrifying prisoners early in this extremely harrowing book. Unsensational but unsparing (Observer)
Janine di Giovanni has described war in a way that almost makes me think it never needs to be described again (Sebastian Junger)
One of our generations finest foreign correspondents (Daily Telegraph)
Few writers can match her evocations of individual suffering in wartime (Newsweek)
Di Giovanni is a war reporter whose courage is matched only by her compassion for her subjects (Evening Standard)
Vividly depicts the lives of ordinary people dealing with extraordinary events: life and death during a time of bitter armed conflict (LA Times)
Heartbreaking . . . . [A] haunting reminder of what the Syrian revolution, ultimately, is about. . . . Amid our obsession with ISIS, these tales are worth remembering (Anand Gopal New York Times)
Necessary, difficult and elating. Her reporting from the Syrian revolution and war is clear-eyed and engaged in the best sense - engaged in the human realm rather than the abstractly political. Giovanni's account is deeply personal . Such reporters as Giovanni, who not only visit but also live (and often die) through wars not their own, are heroic. These are the Marie Colvins, Paul Conroys, Ali Mustafas of journalism (Guardian)
It is crucial to reveal the human stories behind the news - and in The Morning They Came For Us, Janine di Giovanni does this with heartbreaking eloquence. How did millions of Syrians - both ordinary people and the elite - carry on from one day to the next? As Giovanni gives us the answers, it is clear that she is far more than merely a visitor. Her account of Syria is a testimony to the power of empathy, conscience and understanding (Elif Shafak Financial Times)
A searing, intimate account of the conflict in Syria by someone uniquely equipped to tell the story from the inside, winner of the Hay Festival Award for Prose 2016See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
While in Bosnia, Janine heard about the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and then in Egypt. By the time Mladic was arrested she was in the Middle East, ending up in Syria. She witnessed a peaceful event spirall into a brutal, apparently endless war. Janine saw all too manty comparisons with Bosnia; the floods of refugees, burnt out homes and villages, and rape actual or feared.
She, and others, wondered if we had learnt any lessons from the brutal wars in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Chechnya. She found the mood in Damascus paranoid. Fear was everywhere. She was followed and watched. From 2012 when she arrived with a valid visa she saw Syria implode.Read more ›
In the book she recounts several visits she has made to Syria, and the interviews she has carried out with the victims of rape, violence, fighting, and torture. Current life expectancy in Syria is just 55; this has dropped by 20 years since the war began.
Di Giovanni discusses her feelings of guilt: that she is separate from someone in Aleppo or Homs, because she can "walk away" and return to her "home with electricity and sliced bread." She is unflinching when describing what she calls the "dirt, filth, fear and nausea" of war. As she says: "War means endless waiting, endless boredom. There is no electricity, so no television. You can't read. You can't see friends. You grow depressed, but there is no treatment for it, so it makes no sense to complain - everyone is as badly off as you. ... If you are critically ill - with cancer, for instance - there is no chemotherapy for you. If you can't leave the country for treatment, you stay and die slowly, and in tremendous pain."
Di Giovanni describes the effects of barrel bombing and the effects of war on families and children.
At the back of the book is a really useful chronology of the war and its main events.
I found this book painful to read and the sentence that most sticks in my mind is the one on page 150: it "makes you feel ashamed to be human."
3.9 million people have been forced to leave Syria and 7.6 million have been internally displaced. Just these sheet facts, starkly set down in an appendix, show the extent of the suffering.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
. The book is a thought-provoking and visceral narration of the lives of people the war has touched and destroyed. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
More eloquent reviewers than I have sung the praises of this book and I agree with those positive reviews.
The content is powerful and engaging. Read more
Powerful, exemplary journalism, undertaken by the author with tremendous sensitivity and at huge personal risk. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I do not doubt its veracity BUT the experiences recounted were too dreadful for it to be a 'good read'. Read it if you must but do not expect to enjoy the talePublished 3 months ago by Peter Monk