Assad or We Burn the Country

How One Family's Lust for Power Destroyed Syria
Narrated by: Gary Tiedemann
Length: 19 hrs and 52 mins
Categories: History, Middle East
4.6 out of 5 stars (146 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist specializing in the Middle East, this groundbreaking account of the Syrian Civil War reveals the never-before-published true story of a 21st-century humanitarian disaster.

In spring 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turned to his friend and army commander, Manaf Tlass, for advice about how to respond to Arab Spring-inspired protests. Tlass pushed for conciliation but Assad decided to crush the uprising - an act which would catapult the country into an eight-year long war, killing almost half a million and fueling terrorism and a global refugee crisis. 

Assad or We Burn the Country examines Syria's tragedy through the generational saga of the Assad and Tlass families, once deeply intertwined and now estranged in Bashar's bloody quest to preserve his father's inheritance. By drawing on his own reporting experience in Damascus and exclusive interviews with Tlass, Dagher takes listeners within palace walls to reveal the family behind the destruction of a country and the chaos of an entire region. 

Dagher shows how one of the world's most vicious police states came to be and explains how a regional conflict extended globally, engulfing the Middle East and pitting the United States and Russia against one another.  

Timely, propulsive, and expertly reported, Assad or We Burn the Country is the definitive account of this global crisis, going far beyond the news story that has dominated headlines for years. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2019 Sam Dagher (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"As the only Western reporter based in Damascus during the early years of the civil war, Dagher has a rich perspective on the inner machinations of the regime of Bashar al Assad. In this important book, he lays out in grim detail the staggering cynicism and ruthless brutality of the Assad family. In doing so, he provides readers with a timely description of the dynasty that precipitated the destruction of a nation." (Clarissa Ward, Chief International Correspondent, CNN International) 

"A riveting chronicle from a courageous journalist who was there to witness and report the truth. A book that should deservedly garner significant award attention." (Kirkus, starred review) 

"In this gripping narrative of the inner workings of the Assad regime, Dagher delivers a stunning portrait of the ruthlessness and brutality at the heart of the family that has dominated Syria for 50 years. Captivating in its detailed, first-person accounts from key figures inside Syria's corridors of power, his is the most complete and compelling account to date of Bashar's unlikely rise to power, and the relentless violence he has unleashed since 2011 to preserve his iron grip over the country. Essential reading from a noted journalist and one of the world's best-informed Syria watchers." (Steven Heydemann, Janet W. Ketcham 1953 Professor of Middle East Studies and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at Smith College)

"The Syrian uprising has been one of the most consequential events in our new century-it has changed the world. Sam Dagher has been reporting from the heart of the crisis. His book, told through the eyes of two important Syrian insiders, a human rights activist and a former Brigadier General of the Syrian Republican Guard, is a vivid description of the crisis as it unfolded over the past 8 years. It is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand the complex world we are living in." (Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Syrian American doctor and President of MedGlobal)

What listeners say about Assad or We Burn the Country

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How can this happen

There are no words to describe the horror described in this book. Now we know

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Excellent book

This is an excellent recount of what has been happening in Syria in the past 50 years. The book is fair and based on facts and kept me intrigued.

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the telling of Syrian story as truly happened

one of the few honest objective description of what happened in Syria and why it happened and how it happened

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almost perfect

good detail and structure. good reader. minor flaw in trying to conflate Assad and us president. otherwise quality work

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HUMANITIES SELF-IMMOLATION

Humanity is at war with itself. Sam Dagher’s examination of Syria and the Assad government exposes the depth of humanities self-immolation. Bashar Assad’s atrocities in Syria represent the indecency of power and money in the hands of autocratic leaders. Autocrats are never exactly alike but each is corrupted by money and power. For Syria’s atrocities, every country in the world is guilty. All are guilty because of apathy, support, or complicity. Dagher spares no one. America, Russia, Turkey, France, Great Britain, Iran, Syrian generals, and indigenous Syrian leaders are complicit in the slaughter of innocents. Humanity is at war with itself. There seems no end to violence in the world. What is the solution? Neither real-politic nor “let it be” answer the question.

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Good listen

Although I had to cringe when the author attributed the motivation for the Benghazi attack on the infamous YouTube video.

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a must read

Manaf Tlass is indeed marginal, but Dagher neither claims his centrality in Syria before and since the revolution, nor does he focus the book on him. Instead, by bringing Manaf's narrative, among many other important ones, Dagher manages to portray a pretty extensive picture of "Assad's Syria". Who are the true insiders, and who can never be.

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"Assad or Nobody. Assad or We Burn the Country."

Great Narration. Hafez-era to Bashar-era. Necessary Reading on Syria. Highly Recommended. Excellent work by Sam.

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  • D. Dunne
  • 03-24-20

excellent overview of the Syrian wat

Like many people I have a general interest in world affairs and news and was curious to know more about what is going on in Syria. This book was excellent - it gave a good overview of the background to the conflict going back to 1970. It explains very clearly without getting bogged down in too much detail or introducing too many characters. First you get a good insight into the internal dynamics within the country and then it's broadened to include the regional and world players. It was often very exciting and tense (the unfolding drama kind of reminded me of the Netflix series Narcos in a weird way!) Definitely recommend it to anyone who likes world affairs (or Narcos!)

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  • Anas Nashawi
  • 07-10-20

Fascinating, accurate and informative

This is THE book to read by anyone interested in knowing the full truth about what’s happening in Syria and how a bloody,manipulative and ruthless dictator managed to destroy his own country, killing over a million innocent civilians and displacing over 10 millions of Syrians. It takes you deep into the psychological characteristics of the psychopath called Bashar Al Assad and his brutal quest to prove that he is not dumb,irrelevant or insignificant only for the reader to come to a conclusion that indeed he is. This is a historically accurate and sad story of a beautiful country turned into a battleground for conflicting agendas and ideologies fuelled by an evil regime which will forever be remembered in history with the likes of Hitler and Stalin. Thank you Sam,Syrian kids and future generations will learn a lot from your great effort.