Book Review – Burning Country

Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami, Pluto Press

University of Chicago Press

1427 E 60th St.

Chicago, IL 60637 USA

Review by A. Iwasa

I consider myself a news junkie, and have through this era and still couldn’t help but take note of the authors’ scholarship. The book is an appeal for broad support of Syrian grassroots opposition, which the book is a solid argument for.

Personally, I’m impressed by the authors’ job chronicling the specifics on the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS, AKA Daesh). They refer to ISIS’s work as “unsustainable.” In a technical sense I agree, but very few societies aren’t now. I wouldn’t hold my breath for the collapse of the US considering “its project is unsustainable.” Similarly, the Afghan Taliban appears to be stronger now than anytime since its overthrow by the US led coalition in 2001, even as I write this in the fall of 2016! To make matters more perplexing, the authors go on to end chapter 6 of the book writing that Assad will most likely fall, but “Building a free and socially just society out of Syria’s wreckage, however, will be an almost impossible task.”

Refugee life is also chronicled in this book, both for those who are able to leave Syria, and those internally displaced.

For more information on Syria, please check the independent website:

Or for a book specifically on Rojava, A Small Key Can Open A Large Door by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, from Combustion Books.