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My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Revolution

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The ongoing conflict in Syria has made clear just how limited the general knowledge of Syrian society and history is in the West. For those watching the headlines and wondering what led the nation to this point, and what might come next, this book is a perfect place to start developing a deeper understanding.

Based on decades of living and working in Syria, My House in Dam
Paperback, 260 pages
Published August 15th 2014 by Haus Publishing (first published January 28th 2014)
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John McHugo I'm sorry - but this is quite wrong. When a country becomes independent of a colonial (or mandatory) power - as Syria did from France - it's borders…moreI'm sorry - but this is quite wrong. When a country becomes independent of a colonial (or mandatory) power - as Syria did from France - it's borders are those it enjoyed at the moment of independence, as seen in a kind of "snapshot", in the words of the International Court of Justice in the Burkina Faso/Mali case in the 1980s.

The Golan Heights therefore were and will always remain part of Syria, and no unilateral act by Israel can change this. In 1967 Israel seized them during the last two days of the Six Day War after the UN had declared a cease-fire and Syria had accepted it. This was naked aggression. Since then, the Heights have been occupied by Israel. When the Israeli government spreads propaganda that it has annexed the Golan and that the Golan is therefore now Israeli sovereign territory, it is telling a big fat lie. Don't believe it! Annexation of territory acquired in war is forbidden by international law - and for very good reason.

As for the question of Syrian bombardment of Israeli settlements before 1967, it is true that this happened - but as Avi Shlaim points out in The Iron Wall, many of these artillery duels were initiated by Israel. Israel has also often shelled Arab villages, and often driven their inhabitants away so the land could be settled by Israelis.


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4.01  · 
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 ·  191 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
With Syria, you might easily argue there's little reason to be optimistic. But Diana Darke's book is full of hope.

It's a story of one woman's love affair with the country, a relationship that goes so deep that she decided to buy a run-down Ottoman house in the Old City of Damascus.

The purchase brought her into contact with ordinary Syrians - her housekeeper, lawyer, local fixer and bank manager. Gentle, accepting and easy-going, they are living embodiments of a uniquely Syrian approach to life
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having recently met quite a few displaced Syrians and heard their gruelling stories of social destruction and complete breakdown of society's texture, this book really struck a chord with me. Darke's love of Syria and its people lie behind this piece of work, which as she admits herself has more of a social cultural and philosophical perspective than political. The country's war and the history behind it are seen through the prism of a house she buys and renovates in Damascus' Old City. The stor ...more
I haven't spent more time reading a book than Diana Darke's 'My House in Damascus', and the time spent was well worth it.

Review coming this weekend! :)
Happy reading! :D
Susanne Burge
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A deeply moving, spiritual, interesting and enlightening read.
Through the story of her acquisition and renovation of a historic house in Old Damascus, the author succeeds in sharing her insight into and love for Syria, its people and Arabic culture, as well as explaining the reasons behind the tragedy that has, once again, engulfed its ancient civilisation.
But as well as deepening our understanding of why the country remains locked in deadly conflict with most Syrians caught between a repressiv
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A perfect book. There's not much else to say.

Darke's writing style is so dense and poetic, and she does a phenomenal job explaining explaining the social and political structures of pre-Revolutionary Syria. She also provides insightful analysis while creatively merging information through a number of relevant and intriguing stories.

The book is mainly about her house in Damascus (as per the title), but is also an incredible and rare perspective of the current situation in Syria.
Jonathan Fryer
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A completely different angle on the past five tragic years of Syria's civil war by a British woman who bought and lovingly restored an Ottoman house in the Old City of Damascus -- and who still bravely visits from time to time. You feel her love of the place and the people, as well as the frustration at how things have fallen apart. Highly recommended.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a book that really needed to be written... Non political and just shows the love an outsider can have for the people, the beauty and the culture of Syria. This lady has my respect... Shukran!
A very readable account about Syria, its people and society, in the run up to the revolution that started in 2011. Diana Darke knows the Levant intimately and describes beautifully how she got to buy a house in the old city of Damascus and restored it. The story she tells is mostly about that and the people she got to know in the process. She has woven that story into a wider picture of Syria and its society, and I think the result gives an intimate look into what it was like in Syria prior to t ...more
Matthew Trevithick
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it
All I'll say is that my experiences in Damascus and Quneitra differed substantially from hers, and that I wasn't exactly sure what the point of the book was. Generally hostile to Assad, yet writes at length how none of the rebel groups will do any better. Did enjoy the chapter on Syrian Christians and their monastic traditions - hadn't known about the long tradition of meditation / etc in caves that's such a part of that, and the Europeans and Americans who would go there to meditate. Think the ...more
Deen Sharp
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it
A heartfelt account of an English women buying a house and renovating it just before Syria was engulfed in its current brutal conflict. This is a good alternative contemporary introduction to Syria and Damascus. Interesting at points, cliched at others, with some bizarre tangents (a couple of very odd references to Steve Job's Syrian roots), overall a decent read but not comparable to the similar type of tale by the late Anthony Shadid in his masterful book, House of Stone (based in Lebanon, how ...more
Katherine Evans
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great introduction to understanding the current conflict in Syria, but definitely allow it to be a jumping off point to dig in even deeper. As a person who desperately wants to go to Syria but likely never will, this book did an excellent job of letting me "see" it in its pre-revolution beauty. My favorite thing is how Darke's love of Syrians and Syria is palpable. She will make you love them too, and the world needs that right now.
Chantal Ladias
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I only like books I can identify with because they speak to my soul or the souls of my predecessors ... there is an element of grace and intimacy with nature in the Otoman culture that Diana Darke is drawn to. I understand her love for this house . She gives us an inside knowledge of the humanitarian crisis and also her journey to Damascus. How did we let this drama and these horrors take place ? It seems that this journey to and from Damascus has also led to an enlightened experiences
Lucine Van Stappen Gevorgyan
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written book, which gives a detailed description of the situation in Syria.
What makes this book more than just a well-documented text, is the passion with which Diana Dark describes her love for this country, her 'kaleidoscope courtyard' and the people of Syria. Thanks to her imaginative words, Syria rises from dust and war like a queen in all its glory.
Oct 31, 2016 added it
Shelves: memoir
This was a fascinating book that intensified my sadness that I will likely never be able to see the places and sites in and around Syria, but I was a little put off by the author's claim to be telling "the true story behind the Syrian Revolution" and by her apparent blindness to her own potentially privileged position in Syria.
Ross Chambers
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
An inside view of the Syrian Revolution, says it all really. A great insight and just a small taster of life in Syria. The sun will shine on Syria once again in time, but before that can happen more horror must endure. Brilliant read.
Julie Wittman
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Learned a lot about the Syrian conflict and different aspects of Islamic and Syrian culture through the eyes of a Brit who has long been enthralled by the country. Very complicated issues. Written in a rather episodic way. Not a breezy read. Left me deeply sad.
Alastair Lack
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A first class account of the recent troubles in Syria up to 2013, by an English lady who bought a house in the old part of Damascus, and restored it to its former glory. A superbly written book that is well worth reading
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Part declaration of love for a country, its culture and its people, and part examination of cause and effects of the ongoing Syrian civil war - an excellent, insightful read.
Teresa Luckhurst
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really good book about Syria, the country, the people and the war.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it
A sweeping overview of life on the eve of the tragic events that have changed the face of that beautiful nation, Syria.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful love letter to a country torn apart by revolution and an oppressive regimes.
Ayman Al Malki
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although I am Syrian, from Damascus, I enjoyed reading every chapter of this book. The book describes the inside life in Syria generally and Damascus particularly before and at the beginning of the Syrian uprise in 2011 in a narrative way.

I was a little bit confused about the timeline of some events, and I disagree with a few mentioned facts in the book. However, I strongly recommend this book to any non-Syrian who wants to learn about Damascene -and Syrian- community away from extremism news a
Fabio Diglio
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book offers a beautiful, and not too much political, point of view on Syria and its current situation.
It tells also the love story between the author and the country, a story full of anecdotes and peculiar people. One of the main characters is, of course, a beautiful traditional Arab house (at least, that is how I imagined it through her descriptions 😀), that Diane bought before the war

I was looking for something that could make me understand better what is going on in this part of the worl
Trudy Jaskela
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A gift from my friend Anne. She thought I would like it and she guessed correctly.
Book is a story that includes history and current (up to 2016) on the current situation in Syria. Because it is in a story form, author purchasing and renovating a house in Damascus, igt is a very interesting read What we get from TV and newspapers is so different than what you get by the author who gets to know the country and its peoples. .
Author is British with no Syrian roots. Her major in university was Arab
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
With the style of a novel, Diana Darke takes the reader into the complexities of the current situation and conflict in Syria . Her love for the country and it's people shines strongly through the text as well as her understanding of the complex situation of the wider Middle East and western involvement or not.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting perspective on Syrian culture from an outsider's perspective. Not so much a story on the civil war, more so on attitudes leading up to it and the effects on the authors friends in the early days.
Jose Lito
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Not bad but I expected much more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's very real, and I like that it doesn't romanticize the crisis. However, I haven't read it thoroughly, I can't say my review is accurate enough.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
For an in-depth and in-country analysis of the Syrian civil war, read the final chapter and brief epilogue of this book. The remainder offers plenty of history and context, but it also gets bogged down in a lot of fairly irrelevant minutiae about the purchase and upkeep of her house in central Damascus. There are certainly some interesting and revealing anecdotes, but the disjointed nature of the narrative is made clear about halfway through the book, when the author reveals that she had planned ...more
Jo Jackson
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book and particularly poignant to be reading at present. Diana Darke's writing is beautiful and intense. She illuminates so much about Syria and its people. I hope her house survives and that one day she will meet there again with her friends.
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