Syria Book Summary - Syria Book explained in key points
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John McHugo

A Recent History

Brief summary

'Syria' by John McHugo is an accessible history of Syria that provides insight into the country's complex past and present, delving into the cultural, social, and political forces that have shaped Syria's identity.

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    Modern day Syria was once a part of an ancient, turbulent and broader empire called Shaam.

    The country of Syria, as we know it today, is relatively young. Like many other nations, Syria’s modern borders weren’t drawn until the twentieth century.

    Before this, Syria was part of a larger empire called Shaam, or Greater Syria. Its borders comprised modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and parts of Turkey.

    Because of its strategic location and Mediterranean coastline, however, Shaam was vulnerable to invasion. Ancient Egyptians invaded when the Nile River didn’t flood and local crops failed; Alexander the Great as well as Roman caesars incorporated Shaam into their own empires.

    After the Arab conquests of the 630s and 640s, Shaam became part of the Umayyad caliphate, and large swaths of the population converted to Islam. Centuries later, in 1516, the Ottoman Turks conquered the region and ruled until the end of World War I.

    In the nineteenth century, Greater Syria became better connected to the West, thanks to new technologies like the railroad and the telegraph. As people traveled to Europe to seek education, many eventually returned home with new ideas of liberalism, democracy and nationalism.

    In 1856, for example, the sultanate of the Ottoman Empire wrote new, more egalitarian laws, abolishing the unequal treatment of non-Muslim subjects. The goal was to foster a sense of patriotism for the empire among its many different ethnic and religious groups.

    Yet by 1860, these goals were seen as clearly unrealistic. Long-brewing tensions between two ethnoreligious minority groups, the Maronite Christians and the Druze, a religion that splintered from Shi’a Islam in medieval times, erupted into full-scale war.

    Unrest among various groups only intensified in following decades, despite the sultanate’s attempts at control. Yet more problems waited on the horizon, as Europeans turned their interest to the lands of Shaam.

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    What is Syria about?

    Syria (2014) offers a detailed look at the history of Syria, from its ancient origins to its division after world wars and modern struggles under an authoritarian government. You’ll learn that the country’s brutal civil war and role as recruiting ground for militant groups like ISIS all have roots in Syria’s turbulent past.

    Syria Review

    Syria by John McHugo (2015) gives a comprehensive account of the country's history, politics, and culture that is why it is definitely worth reading. Here's what makes this book special and interesting:

    • Offers in-depth analysis of Syria's complex political landscape, providing a deeper understanding of its current situation.
    • Examines the various factors contributing to the Syrian conflict, including regional influences and the role of international powers.
    • Explores the cultural diversity of Syria, shedding light on its rich heritage and the impact of conflict on its people.

    Who should read Syria?

    • Historians and students of Middle East history
    • People interested in current events
    • People curious about Syrian cultural history

    About the Author

    John McHugo is an Arabic linguist and international lawyer with over four decades of experience in the Middle East.

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    Syria FAQs 

    What is the main message of Syria?

    The main message of Syria is a deep exploration of the complex political and social factors that have shaped the country's turbulent history.

    How long does it take to read Syria?

    The reading time for Syria varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary, however, can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Syria a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Syria is a compelling read that provides valuable insights into the country's history and current events. It is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of the Syrian conflict.

    Who is the author of Syria?

    The author of Syria is John McHugo.

    What to read after Syria?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Syria, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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