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We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,305 ratings  ·  431 reviews


Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.

Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Custom House
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William Notte
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am an elected official in a city that was designated as a resettlement community for Syrian refugees last year. To say this was a contentious issue for some people would be more than an understatement. While many community members got to work preparing to welcome our new neighbors, others reacted with fear and anger. On that side of the spectrum of public opinion there was a great deal of dehumanizing occurring. Syrian refugees were not seen as human beings. They were seen instead as a ...more
Rachel León
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, read-in-2017
This book can be difficult to read, but it's so powerful. Pearlman interviewed over 300 Syrian refugees over four years and compiles their stories in this book. If you want to better understand the conflict in Syria, this book is excellent.

(Note: I interviewed Pearlman about this book and you can check it out here:
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a set of one hundred or so vignettes narrated by Syrians, talking about their own experiences before, during and after the Syrian Revolution. Syria was a country of 22 million people and anyone who lived through these incredible events will have personal stories like these, which are by their nature extraordinary. While it is not anything that will be shocking to people who have followed the uprising over the past few years, these vignettes provide a beautifully humanizing picture of a ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
Today, the word "refugee" is used in a horrible way. It's something either to be pitied or blamed for everything. Overpopulation? It's the refugees. Rents going up? It's the refugees. Crime? It's the refugees. If you label people refugees, they remain refugees for the rest of their lives. For that reason, the organization I work with here doesn't use this word. Instead, we say "newcomers." After a while, they are no longer newcomers - just members of society.
Occasionally I read a book that
Ann Mayhew
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for everyone.
Thing Two
Wow. If you've been near me the past few days, I've undoubtedly talked to you about this piece.

Wendy Pearlman collected the interviews from hundreds of Syrian refugees. Under eight headings like "Hope Dissappointed" and "Living War", Pearlman extracts pieces -sentences, paragraphs, pages - and groups different interview messages together. What you get is a clear vision of the who/what/why of Syria.

I was struck over and over again by how similar their lives seemed - school, work, shopping,
This was both one of the hardest and one of the most important books I read in years, if not in my life.
Rose  Heartfilia
Many times I heard or saw comments on Facebook with Faith in Humanity restored. What does that have to do with a book about Syria? I will tell you what I think it has to do with it. I think it is shallow. There, one word, covering all that I think about. "Busdriver helping mom with pram into the bus." Yes? You could have done that as well? Even I have to admit that l like to read them, that it brings little smiles to my face but then when a read a book like this, my smile disappears again for a ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is not your father’s Syria. It is worse, if that is possible.

I consider myself up-to-date on the middle east and its’ countries.

But I knew so much less of Syria than I previously thought I knew.

This brilliant writer/editor, immersed in many of the Arab countries for decades, offered a compendium of present-day Syria and its’ neighbors and told the story through Syrian eyes.

The writer’s voice is not heard. Only the people she has interviewed.

What we hear are voices from many different
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is very good. I've been reading about and watching this slow and then sudden tragedy. This book was a really wonderful inside view of the people affected by the catastrophe in Syria. The portion about the revolution itself was truly awe-inspiring--what people will sacrifice to achieve freedom is astounding.

My one slight criticism is that I wish that Pearlman had not translated every single utterance into English. Like "God is Great." She could have left a few Allah Akbar's in there. We know
Miina Saarna
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reading2018
I've been trying to follow the developments in Syria for some time, but have not had a clear understanding of what exactly started the war and how it all evolved to the current state. This book did an outstanding job of explaining the history, the oppression, the revolution, the war, and the refugee crisis. The book consists of interviews with ordinary Syrians and their stories are so powerful, moving, and heartbreaking. Strongly recommend!
What can I say about We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria when it has rendered me so speechless?

I know I will sound ignorant when I say this, or like I live inside of a nice little bubble that blocks out everything that is ugly in this world, but I had no real idea what all has been going on in Syria for the last several years. Did I know things were bad? Of course I did, but my eyes were closed to the extent and longevity of the suffering occurring within the Syrian
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you wish to learn more about the Syrian conflict, you should start here. Wendy Pearlman wrote a remarkable book that highlighted and honored the personal stories and experiences of Syrians living in Assad's poisonous regime. Its an incredible assortment of first-hand testimonials from the front lines of the revolution. The storytelling is so powerful and raw that it often left me imagining what it would be like to live and fight through this devastating war. I made a promise to myself that I ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most powerful books I've ever read--I immediately ordered my own copy to share and refer back to. The author speaks Arabic and has spent more than twenty years living in the Arab world. Likely, that played a huge part in allowing her to make her contributors feel comfortable enough to share their stories. The introduction, structure, and stories are amazingly put together. Everyone should read this book.
Yonis Gure
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who considers himself Left-wing and of democratic socialist persuasion, I was more than disappointed to see way too many progressives and prominent Leftists either ignore Syria's tragedy entirely for reasons of political convenience, or - much worse - actively support the party in Syria responsible for the vast majority of the deaths in the conflict, namely the Assad regime. Syria is the greatest human conflict since WWII and it's political reverberations and consequences have been ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ll-books
It feels strange to rate a book like this. Because I don’t want to be rating a person’s struggles, trauma, losses... but the way Wendy Pearlman put these fragments of people’s stories and thoughts, combined with the introduction, really helps for those even not deeply familiar with details of what has happened in Syria to understand what those ‘news events’ mean for very real human beings.

If someone wants to try and understand what’s going on in Syria from the perspective of those who
Raven Andrus
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is heartbreaking. I believe this is an important global novel that should be read by all. To hear the voices of Syrians through the translations of Wendy Pearlman brings their tragedy to a place where I can connect. We have so much turmoil and hate in this world that I'm ashamed to say I become numb to a lot of it. But this book has helped me to open my eyes and my heart to Syrians who have been scattered across the globe. We have to stand with them. Read this book if you care about ...more
Kristiine Kukk
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is really powerful! The author interviewed 300 Syrian refugees over four years from different backgrounds and beliefs to give a real look into what people in Syria were really going through. It's a heavy reading but a "must read" for everyone to really... understand.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
Heartbreakingly powerful first-hand accounts of trying to survive the Assad regime, ISIS, the chemical attacks, the war in Aleppo, the Arab Spring, and the refugee plight for aid. The news does no justice to these voices.
Melodie Pearse
"And when those words are said, you and two hundred other people are ready to call out, “The people want the downfall of the regime!” Your voice gets louder and you feel intense feelings: You shudder and your body rises and everything you imagined just comes out. Tears come down. Tears of joy, because I broke the barrier . . . I am not afraid, I am a free being. Tears come down and your voice gets hoarse. Sadness and happiness and fear and courage . . . they’re all mixed together in that voice, ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite trying my best to follow developments in the Middle East, I have not had a clear understanding of the Syrian issue. This book does a fantastic job of explaining the history of the Assad regime, the revolution, civil war and refugee crisis in the first section. Then the author interviews ordinary Syrians, and lets them tell their stories in their own voices. It is absolutely heart-breaking. The book whittles the Syrian situation down into an individual focus. Each story is carefully ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
"Everything we've experienced has killed us. We check the news every second. This person is still alive; this person was killed...

"I swear, in Syria nobody used to ask whether you're a Muslim or a Christian. We had no idea what religion our friends were.

"But none of that matters anymore. If I died this second, I wouldn't care. Because I've reached a point in my life where I hate everything. I am disgusted by humanity. We're basically the living dead. Sometimes I joke to Munir that someone should
Vivek Tejuja
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It isn’t easy to write a book about ordinary people. It isn’t easy to make their voices heard, no matter what and when people who write such books and give us a chance to read it, it means a lot, to me. “We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria” by Wendy Pearlman is one such book which has impacted me a lot this year. It is definitely about the content, but it is also about rights – human rights that get violated and stories of ordinary Syrians that go unheard, which Pearlman has ...more
Muhammad Ahmad
I couldn't recommend Wendy Pearlman's extraordinary "We Crossed the Bridge and it Trembled" highly enough. The book lets Syrians narrate their own revolution and lets you experience its initial hopes & prospects & its subsequent trials & betrayals. If this weren't an unflinching collection of testimony, it would be a great work of art. The book is a marvel of economy and authenticity, beautifully constructed and impossible to put down.
Connie D
This very powerful book brings us into the lives and experiences of Syrians before and during the Syrian revolution, and in the aftermath. All the excerpts are from interviews Pearlman did with people involved, organized in a generally chronological way along with explanations of what has happened in Syria. It's intense and discouraging...almost unbelievable the horror that has been endured and how little I understood about it.
Jenn Meadows
I want to start this review off by saying that I think this book is an incredibly important read. I will be recommending this book to all my friends to learn more about the conflict in Syria and the experiences of Syrian refugees.

With that being said, I rated this book three stars because of my personal experience while reading. While it was incredibly important for me to learn about the Syrian conflict from the mouths of people that experienced it, the weaved narrative from individual's
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My biggest wish is that this book had some direction, some idea, as to what readers can do to help, apart from simply being more sympathetic to others, and treating others with compassion. I feel bad that I didn't know more about the background of Syria before reading this, and feel bad now that there's so little I can do to help.
Leah K
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These books are always hard to review. How do you judge someone's very person and deep experience? With that said, the interviews we're insightful and the book was well-rounded.
Mushisho Azhar
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I had the gist of the Syrian conflict after reading about it in the newspapers and on the internet. I now know I was wrong.

This book was gut-wrenching. It's supposed to be a short read, yet it took me longer because I had to stop after reading certain entries. They were just too heartbreaking. I realise as an outsider looking on, it's easy to see the Syrian conflict as just that, a conflict, a war. We sometimes forget that it involves people's lives, many of them innocent.

Or sometimes
D. H.
This book provides a summary of conflict in Syria, and then through the words of those who oppose the Assad Regime, it provides accounts of how the conflict developed from protests to civil war, and how the civil war went bad, left room for groups like ISIS, and eventually led to an exodus.
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