The Morning they Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria

The Morning they Came for Us is one of those books you don’t read, but experience. If you’re human, you will feel, and you will feel deeply. I recommend setting aside time to both read and take breaks to reflect while reading, especially with the descriptions of torture and violence.

READ IF YOU…

  • Can stomach torture and violence descriptions
  • Want to better understand the war in Syria, from a human, not political, perspective
  • Want a culturally diverse read

TitleThe Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria | Author: Janine Di Giovanni | Rating: 5/5

This was harrowing. It’s the book you have to read in digestible chunks, setting it down every so often to shake yourself of the emotions. Of course, the emotions cling to you, regardless.

Speaking to those directly involved in the war, di Giovanni relays here the personal stories of rebel fighters thrown in jail at the least provocation; of children and families forced to watch loved ones taken and killed by regime forces with dubious justifications; and the stories of the elite, holding pool parties in Damascus hotels, trying to deny the human consequences of the nearby shelling.

It felt surreal reading Syrians’ accounts of the war, the shelling, the outright rapes and murders, the betrayals, torture, starvation, and destruction of a once beautiful country. The book reads like a documentary, with snippets of people’s stories woven together against the backdrop of an apocalyptic reality.

I travelled to Syria before the war, back in 2007, and I fell in love with it, with the juxtaposition of modern and ancient, rural and urban. It was a sight to behold, from the ancient caravan site of Palmyra, to the citadel Krak des Chevaliers, to the ancient water wheels (norias) of Hama, to the meandering Homs souk. My family is from Syria, and hearing the tales of other Syrians in the book brought it home for me.

The Morning they Came for Us is one of those books you don’t read, but experience. If you’re human, you will feel, and you will feel deeply. I recommend setting aside time to both read and take breaks to reflect while reading, especially with the descriptions of torture and violence.

I do think there was a lot of bias and anti-Assad perspectives in the book. It’s hard to say who’s the villain in a situation like this, if you read both sides of the story. Still, this book is about humans, and that should be the forefront. I wish the book had been written more objectively, more human, less with political bias, but regardless of that, it’s worth the read.

2 thoughts on “The Morning they Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria

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