A Disappearance in Damascus: Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War

Deborah Campbell. Picador, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-2501-4787-5
Journalist Campbell spotlights the life of an exceptional Iraqi woman, Ahlam, who was her guide and companion as she reported for Harper’s magazine in 2006 about the years following the fall of Saddam Hussein. Campbell, who was assigned by the magazine to write about the exodus of displaced Iraqis into Syria, here explores the lethal factions and political minefields in Syria at the time, and recalls recruiting Ahlam as a “fixer” to secure information for her. Ahlam had already been captured, pistol-whipped, and tortured back in Iraq by insurgents for performing intelligence work for Americans, so Campbell particularly admired her for continuing to do the same dangerous job in Syria. When Ahlam is detained by the Syrian government for her work with Campbell, whom the Syrians suspect of being a Mossad or CIA agent, Campbell embarks on a quest to secure her release. The author’s devotion to her friend will open hearts as Campbell and Ahlam’s family try every option to gain her freedom. Campbell’s work is an informed, fascinating account of one courageous source. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 09/05/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-345-80930-8
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