My Country: A Syrian Memoir My Country: A Syrian Memoir by Kassem Eid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Kassem Eid grew up in the jasmine streets of Moadamiya, a small town on the outskirts of the ancient city of Damascus. He was not a native Syrian, but his parents were Palestinian refugees who had made this country their home. He was bright and was really looking forward to school, but on his first day, he realised that he was never going to be fully accepted because of his origins. He had already taught himself to read using the Readers Digest that his father had, and was really looking forward to school, but just how much of an outsider he was dawned on him when he first went to school.

In 2000 Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father as the leader of Syria. There was a glimmer of hope in the country that he would be a little more tolerant than his father. These were dashed fairly quickly when he gripped the country with an even fiercer tyrannical government. Eleven years later revolution swept across the region with the Arab spring. Each country reacted differently to the uprisings, but Syria crushed any protest with arrests and violence. There was only one way that this was going to go and as Kassem reached his mid-teens, the country was spiralling into civil war. The regime was prepared to use any means to keep the parts of the country suppressed, including chemical warfare, and on one day in August, Moadamiya, where he lived, was attacked with Sarin gas. He saw many people die that day in the horrible way that the poison works, but he survived.

That was the day that he joined the Free Syrian Army; that was the day he first picked up a gun.

This is a book that demands to be read. The situation in Syria has now reached crisis point especially with the recent military action that the UK was involved with. The people of Syria have suffered enough at the hands of the brutal dictatorship; all these people want to do is live in peace in their own country. Sadly though they are a pawn in the battle between the USA and Russia and until that is resolved, people die. Eid’s book about his life spent there tells the story of the brutality suffered by him and other under the authorities is heart-wrenching stuff. With his background, he was always going to be an outsider whichever country he lived in, but he still has the right to choose that country and be able to make the choice to stay in Syria.

If you have a single shred of humanity in you, then you need to read this book.

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