Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present by Christian Sahner

By Christian Sahner

As a civil conflict shatters a rustic and consumes its humans, historian Christian C. Sahner bargains a poignant account of Syria, the place the previous profoundly shapes its dreadful current. one of the Ruins blends background, memoir and reportage, drawing at the author's large wisdom of Syria in historical, medieval, and smooth occasions, in addition to his stories residing within the Levant at the eve of the warfare and in the course of the "Arab Spring". those plotlines converge in a wealthy narrative of a rustic in consistent flux - a spot renewed by means of the very shifts that, within the close to time period, are proving so harmful.

Sahner specializes in 5 topics of curiosity to someone intrigued and dismayed via Syria's fragmentation considering 2011: the position of Christianity in society; the coming of Islam; the increase of sectarianism and competing minorities; the emergence of the Ba'ath celebration; and the present pitiless civil struggle.

Among the Ruins is a brisk and illuminating learn, an available creation to a rustic with an tremendously wealthy earlier and a sad current. For an individual looking to comprehend Syria, this ebook might be their start line.

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Chaucer is mute on the subject, though knowing the chronic misdemeanors of his motley crew, I imagined 27 AMONG THE RUINS they’d probably head to the nearest alehouse. A few months before visiting the old cemetery in Damascus, I had gone to Rome on my own Easter pilgrimage, where I was struck by the secularity of the experience—by the blurry line between tourism and prayer, between the avowed obligation to light candles and a more intense interest in investigating the gelaterias where I could break my Lenten fast.

She wore a thin layer of exhaust fumes upon her head at all times, dancing to a bracing diesel symphony. In the glare of the sun, Damascus struck the onlooker as the quintessential Middle Eastern metropolis—busy, choked with people and traffic, bereft of elegance. Indeed, I suspected that had the Prophet visited in the twenty-first century and not in the seventh, he might have turned on his heel and looked for heaven somewhere else. â•… Still, Damascus could muster a sense of romance, especially at sunset.

From high up, it resembled a basilica: long and narrow, crowned by a dome and girded by a large forecourt. On closer inspection, I noticed the small phalanx of towers hemming it in, with sheets of gold mosaic covering the courtyard like screens of chiffon. The entire city seemed to bow in its direction, and with good reason: this was the Umayyad Mosque—the most important building in Damascus and a fascinating window into Syrian history past and present. â•… After a few minutes, the call to prayer was ending.

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