cover image We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

Wendy Pearlman. Custom House, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-265461-8

Pearlman (Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement), a Northwestern University professor of political science specializing in the Middle East, collects powerful firsthand accounts from Syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war. In the introduction, Pearlman remarks that she and others initially doubted the Arab Spring would ever reach Syria, a sentiment repeated throughout. The book cannot cover the perspective of all Syrians, Pearlman acknowledges, but it does accomplish the goal of humanizing those interviewed, showing them simply as people rather than either victims or security threats. The book is divided into eight sections, with the first, “Authoritarianism,” dealing with Syria before the protests. After part four, “Crackdown,” the stories start to feel relentless in their despair—at one point, an interviewee says, “It had been so long since I heard someone died from natural causes”—but one would be hard pressed to call this a fault. It’s unsurprising to see the anger not just toward Syrian president Bashar al-Assad but also toward the international community, with its many “red lines” for Assad crossed and ignored. Nonetheless, the book is filled with hope, informed by an understanding of the unity possible in spite of the discord sowed by Assad. [em]Agent: Ayesha Pande, Ayesha Pande Literary. (June) [/em]