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The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from Islamic State Hardcover – 9 Mar 2017
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"Remarkable . . . rare, intimate . . . Samer is an understated hero of our time." (The Times)
"As powerful and fast-paced as a thriller . . . this is brutal non-fiction, plainly and urgently told." (Robin Yassin-Kassab Guardian)
"Readers will salute the quite literally death defying bravery of Samer in taking a stand against the terrorists. He shows that no matter how hopeless the situation, the simple act of bearing witness is one of the most powerful human responses available . . . The Raqqa Diaries is so important." (Evening Standard)
"The book is beautifully produced . . . Everyone should spend a couple of hours of their life reading it, to remind themselves that, even in the darkest depth of human misery, the bravest souls still exist." (Sunday Times)
"The fact that Samer was able, and indeed brave enough, to communicate with the outside world is an inspirational victory over bullies and oppressors. In the context of Islamic State’s brutality Samer’s quiet voice becomes a roar, a roar of defiance. His remarkably balanced account of terrible things and terrible times is the sound of civilisation. A clarion call to all of us that we should not give up. Somewhere there is a voice in the wreckage." (Michael Palin)
"This should be compulsory reading for all who care about the horror of Syria. Especially those who control its fate." (John Humphrys)
"Remarkable . . . We owe it to the author - and to all those who have died - to read his account of the evil cruelty of Daesh and the horrors of the Syrian civil war." (Hilary Benn)
"A powerful lesson in courage and humanity in the face of brutality and ignorance." (Mishal Husain)
"Reading the Raqqa diaries I felt I was walking Raqqa's streets with Samer, my heart pounding with fear. I finished the diary in tears . . . desperate for more news of this brave young man whom I have never met but whom I feel we've all let down." (Emma Jane Kirby, author of THE OPTICIAN OF LAMPEDUSA)
An incredibly brave account of life inside one of the most isolated and fear ridden cities in the world.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Read this book for a clear-eyed view of what is happening is Syria. Read it to hear the voice of a Muslim who cares deeply for his religion and his people. Read it to understand why someone would choose to leave their home and become a refugee.
In Raqqa controlled by Daesh, communicating with the western media is punishable by beheading. And of course, Western journalists are not allowed into the city. Those who are determined that the outside world should be aware of what their lives are like are in permanent danger of discovery, permanent danger of death, and also place their families in danger. It is a vicious choice to have to make, bearing witness seems the only possibility of any kind of less bleak future. The activist group Samer belonged to had made contact with the BBC. Samer’s resistance was to keep a journal of events (something, of course, punishable by death)
The journal was published after his escape from Raqqa – his present whereabouts are in a refugee camp in northern Syria.
I received this as a digital review copy
Samer tells the bleakness of his country's present story simply. Too much of what happens is unbearable to linger on, and, living amid horror I suspect that allowing full realisation in would make surviving impossible. There is only so much pain which can be borne. Here is the experience of one who should have been an ordinary young man, one who loves his country, his family, his friends, his religion, one with ordinary hopes for an ordinary future.Read more ›
As he said, life was not easy before the war began. The Assad regime had been in place for 40 years or more and many people hoped to see the end of it. However, the rebels were unable to hold Raqqa, which was then overrun by Daesh. Life under the so-called Islamic State was horrific. Samer saw so many dreadful sights – executions, some carried out by children; women being stoned to death; men arrested for wearing their trousers too short.
Under this regime, the people of Raqqa became poorer and more despairing by the day. Many feared for their lives. Men, especially, were suspected of being revolutionaries and there was the daily expectation of being picked up and executed.
I was interested to read that Samer decided to escape from the city that he loves at the insistence of his mother. She was terrified that he would die at the hands of Daesh. Maybe this is the answer to the question that I have heard raised as to why there are so many young men who are fleeing from Syria; their families wish them to survive rather than face the daily prospect of execution.
This is a book that one can read quickly, but it should be read. Lives were risked so that we could have a glimpse of life inside Raqqa. I think we owe it to Samer and all involved in this.
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this
harrowing, but important, book.
He reports of a life under constant fear, mistrust and unbelievable brutality and a more and more deteriorating situation for the civilian population in every aspect of daily life. He witnesses numerous executions and the loss of several good friends under unbelievable brutal circumstances. Therefore the courage and idealism of Samer cannot be valuated high enough for smuggling out information from Raqqa under constant threat to his own life.
This book is the best evidence of the real nature of the self-declared „holy warriors“ and their „caliphate“. They are just a bunch of killers, thieves and rapists. Respect for the courage of the author, who risked his life for reporting the world from the heart of ISIS' stronghold in Syria.
Full recommendation for this disturbing and impressive book.
It is short, terse and precise and very well written prose, presented rather too beautifully for such an ugly story and it reminds us of why we should strive for better, that we can improve things.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The barbarous nature of ISIS has been well recorded and published. The penalties exacted for using a mobile phone, speaking to the Western media, and wearing inappropriate clothing... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Dr Barry Clayton
"I walk around the city with a broken soul, looking at all the other broken souls passing by. Each pair of eyes that passes tells a different story, a different... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Roman Clodia
Samer, not his real name, has bravely written this book - risking his life to do it. Surely, the least we can do is give it a read. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Saarah N