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The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from Islamic State

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  831 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
The Raqqa Diaries began as a series of short broadcasts on Radio 4’s 'Today' Programme. Now one of the most isolated and fear ridden cities on earth, no-one is allowed to speak to western journalists or leave Raqqa, without IS’s permission. Those caught breaking the rules face death by beheading.

Despite this, Mike Thomson, with the help of BBC’s Arabic Service, found a you
Hardcover, 108 pages
Published March 9th 2017 by Hutchinson (first published March 2017)
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Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A rare and terrifying document of life in the capital of ISIS' false caliphate. This is a short book, barely 100 pages with illustrations, but that is enough.

Samer, our author (of course this is a pseudonym) first tells of the hopes of rebellion against the Assad dictatorship, then the looming terror as the first rebels are driven out and something more terrible moved in. This is not a regime governing by anything like law and order. It is guided by the random violence of terror, and it treats
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A quite unique book in my experience.
These are the writings; the memories and recollections of life in Raqqa under the rule of Islamic State, Daesh in the words of this diarist.
“Every person starts their journey of life with a dream that they live in hope of achieving one day. There are many obstacles along the way. These stop some people, while others carry on.
I am trying to find the remnants of my dream. It’s fading away in the midst of an overwhelming feeling of disappointment.
As I write thes
This is one of the most important works of this decade. I'm never one to impress a book on someone but everyone needs to read this.

I'm heartbroken and apologetic and shocked that this is happening in our world. That people took no heed of the Nazi regime and Daesh are doing exactly the same thing. This book is heartbreaking and waves of shock just keep hitting you when you realise this book is not a work of fiction. It makes you angry, especially when people associate IS with Islam and being mus
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One rainy night, a woman screams…

The first angry cries of her newborn baby drown out everything, even the roar of distant gunfire and air strikes.

Maybe the baby is screaming for its absent father, or just asking for a crib to lie in. Or is it pleading for an end to the constant killing and destruction and calling on God to take it back to the womb, away from this place?

You have the right to say all these things, little baby. But many who hear your cries see your arrival as a blessing. You give
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: october-2017
Every once in a while, an important book is published, which reflects upon parts of society that are often hidden from the Western world. Yes, I am sure that we are all familiar with the conflict in Syria, which has been ongoing for years, but we rarely get to see what the situation is like for the civilians who call the country home. The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from "Islamic State" does just this; it gives an insight, through the eyes of a Syrian man in his early twenties, of exactly what living ...more
Roman Clodia
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I walk around the city with a broken soul, looking at all the other broken souls passing by. Each pair of eyes that passes tells a different story, a different struggle"

Short but powerful, this gives us a horrific glimpse into the maelstrom of a community living under IS. Samar was at university before dropping out in fear: he has seen friends crucified and beheaded, has been arrested and tortured, and yet still has the extraordinary courage to write these dispatches and get them smuggled out t
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from 'Islamic State' upon Yamini's recommendation... There are only a few people whose reviews I trust, but when she rates something five stars, I know I am in for a treat.

Since ISIS occupied Raqqa in eastern Syria, it has become one of the most isolated and fear-ridden cities on earth. The sale of televisions has been banned, wearing trousers the wrong length is a punishable offence, and using a mobile phone is considered and unforgiveable crime.

No journalists a
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book! Everyone!

This is the diary of Samer (pseudonym) and his life in Raqqa before and during the takeover of his city by IS.

It is horrifying and heartbreaking to read what Samer and his towns people are put through by the Daesh and their twisted view of Islam. Beheadings in the street, people thrown to their deaths, crucifixions and torture.

But through all that there is still love, he thinks of others before himself and risked his life to share his story with the world
Zuzana Fajta
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neviem, ako to inak povedať, ale je to riadny “nájeb”.
Denisa Ballová
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Keď Daeš znásilnil moje mesto a uchmatol ho revolucionárom, ktorí obetovali všetko pre to, aby ho oslobodili, zúril som. Nedokázal som to prijať a bol som odhodlaný odkryť všetky zločiny, ktoré páchali na ľuďoch. Musel som povedať svetu, čo sa v Rakke deje."

Toto je dôležitá kniha.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Briefly - Simple, raw and powerful - if anything understated.

In full
This book is based on some short broadcasts made on Radio 4. As Raqqa was "liberated" by Daesh (IS) it became impossible to report from there. However a reporter from the BBC made contact with some people who were effectively underground there and one of them was prepared to offer a diary of his experiences and thoughts which were smuggled out and the broadcast. This is Samer's story

It tells, in fairly understated language to me
Noelia Alonso
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
There is a lot this book made me feel. Most of all it made me feel disgusted with the International Community for doing nothing, for standing by. And this diary comes from a single person so one can only imagine the horrors of many others whose voices haven't been heard yet.

"Educated people like him scare Daesh the most. He believes that our most important role is to expose the true nature of Daesh, particularly the way they use religion to cover up their criminality, only fooling those who do n
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: syria, non-fiction
The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from Islamic State by a young man with the alias of Samer, is a heart-wrenching account of his life in Raqqa before and after it was taken over by Daesh. He also describes how he escaped from the city and made his way to a refugee camp in northern Syria.

As he said, life was not easy before the war began. The Assad regime had been in place for 40 years or more and many people hoped to see the end of it. However, the rebels were unable to hold Raqqa, which was overrun by
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Since ISIS occupied Raqqa in eastern Syria, it has become one of the most isolated and fear-ridden cities on earth. The sale of televisions has been banned, wearing trousers the wrong length is a punishable offence and using a mobile phone is considered an unforgiveable crime. No journalists are allowed in and the penalty for speaking to the western media is death by beheading."

The BBC made contact with a small activist group, Al-Sharqiya 24. One of their members agreed to write a diary, this i
Grace Phua
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Curiosity level: Deeply tragic and moving - Bravery in the face of brutality

This non-fiction book reads very much like an Anne Frank’s diary, but in Raqqa. Samer is a 24-year old Syrian from the ISIS-controlled city. In this journal filled with illustrations and words, he painfully describes the atrocities of the ISIS militants; The people in Raqqa are being brutally slaughtered silently.

Samer’s neighbours and friends were hunted down and killed for having protested in the past. People get ki
Shireen Rummana
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This collection of diary entries, albeit brief, manages to poignantly describe three major periods in Raqqa and in Syria's recent history--the misery of life under the Assad regime, the brief hope and commitment of activists during the revolution, and then the deepening misery and crisis under IS control in Raqqa. The narrator explains well, using a saying of Ibn Khaldun's, "The Tyrants bring the invaders" (الطغاة يجلبون الغزاة), how IS arrived in Syria as the child of the Assad regime, created ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
One of the important books that I think everyone should read at least once in their life.

It’s a fast read that may not dig deep into the political side of what happened in Syria. It’s not a book that will tell you detail about the whole IS, regime and Syria politically and historically. But you will surely feel a lot with Samer & other victims of IS there.
It’s so so horrifying :(

I would recommend to read a bit about IS and Syria before you start reading this book.

*May write a ful
Alice Duarte
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La narración del autor es muy sencilla, se nota que no es escritor profesional, sino que nos está tan solo contando su historia y punto de vista. Su testimonio es conmovedor, brutal y terrible, es la clase de libro que se lee en nada y que todos deberían leer.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

A wake up call for all of us. A short read, but not an easy read, by any means. Expect tears. Many tears.

The illustrations are beautiful and colourful, and in including them, the publishers have been smart enough to know our spirits would need lifting. It is an intense read after all. It's like reading dystopia, except it's real.
warto poświęcić godzinkę i przeczytać, a kiedyś najlepiej jeszcze do tego wrócić
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is required reading.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fuuu, útlá knížečka, ale ten obsah by vystačil na tisíce stran. Totální zmar a beznaděj, strach, smrt, žádná budoucnost.
"Tieto slová píšem, sediac na zemi uprostred tisícok utečencov. Rovnako ako ja museli ujsť zo svojho domova a zanechať za sebou svoje zničené sny.
Ešte stále verím, že mojej krajine zostala nádej. Verím v ľudí, ktorí riskujú svoje životy, aby sa postavili nespravodlivosti a útlaku. Vzhľadom na okolnosti si však nie som istý, či ich obeta mala zmysel."
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend to everyone.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Raqqa Diaries is the product of contact between the BBC and a small activist group from Syria, Al-Sharqiya 24. The book tells the story of Samer, one of the members of the activist group. Imagine the circumstances under which he lived when was working on bringing his story out.

Personally, I don't even think that the events in Syria can be described under a term such as 'circumstances', they are no more than an ongoing flow of pure terror. Reading this book fills you up with emotions like sa
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Útla knižka, sugestívne ilustrácie. Opisuje každodenný teror v Sýrii, kde moc prevzal Daeš, násilie a popravy, zákaz informačných zdrojov, finančné zdieranie, chudobu... Postupne sa borili Samerove sny, prišiel o svoju lásku, o možnosť študovať, musel utiecť... Vo svojom denníku napriek všetkému vyjadruje nádej, že to to môže zmeniť... Ale to je asi jediné, čo má...
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Life in Raqqa is like a slow death. There’s no way you can live a decent life there. -Samer

A short and brave account of life under ISIS. I highly recommend reading it, along with Mustafa Khalifa's 'The Shell': Memories of a Hidden Observer, for a better understanding of the Syrian situation.
Natalie (weneedhunny)
Samer is the pseudonym of a 24 year old man, who escaped life under the Islamic State. The Raqqa Diaries is his story, and many others reality. This is an important book, if nothing else then for what it symbolizes and represents - the reality of people living under Daesh/ISIS oppression, what living in Syria in the current political situation is really like, and the horrors that have become everyday for the people living there. This book shows the wish to stand-up for the people’s rights and fr ...more
Sally Davies
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We’re all familiar with the conflict in Syria, but we have so far only been able to guess at what it must have been like to live in the city of Raqqa, which was seen as 'Islamic State's' "capital". It became one of the most isolated, dangerous and terrifying places in the world. When Daesh (Islamic State) and their twisted idea of Islam took over Raqqa, the penalty for those who spoke to the western press was death by beheading. My sheer amazement that this book even managed to exist was enough ...more
Raqqa Diaries is a quick, poignant reminder of the tragedy that is Syria. Samer, the author who eventually fled to a refuge camp, paints a bleak, yet hopeful picture of life under Assad, the Free Syrian Army and Daesh. He believes. [Or believed. I didn’t find info on him after publication.] this nightmare isn’t sustainable. Same. Asad could just seek asylum in Iran and live out his life in some fantasy world of his own creation. I don’t see him or ISIS prevailing. They’ve gone too brutal. If the ...more
If you're not really sure what's happening in Syria or why the world is in the midst of a major refugee crisis, this book is an excellent place to start. The Raqqa Diaries is a collection of short, succinct "diary entries" (anecdotes) written by a young man living in the Syrian city of Raqqa. I knew the situation in Syria was horrifying, but reading these entries was eye-opening ... people being crucified in front of their families; children being handed weapons and ordered to execute dissidents ...more
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Samer é o pseudônimo de um jovem de 24 anos que conseguiu escapar de Raqqa. Atualmente, ele vive em um campo de refugiados no norte da Síria
More about Samer

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