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Publisher's Summary

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 of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy, and human rights. The government's ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.

Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad-brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of firsthand testimonials from the front lines. Some of the testimonies are eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is a testament not only to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.

©2017 Wendy Pearlman (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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Outstanding

This amazing book allows you to bear witness directly to Syrian dissidents’ and dispacees’ very personal accounts of the current crisis. After an introductory historical chapter by Pearlman, the narrative is conveyed through direct, first-person vignette after vignette, offered with no author commentary. Pearlman’s effort is in assembling the vignettes in a sequence that conveys the zeitgeists for dissident or otherwise disempowered segments of Syrian society under the oppression of the prewar Syrian regimes, during the excitement of the Arab Spring, the sense of freedom followed by the horrors of the Syrian revolution and civil war, and then very difficult but at times hopeful life in exile. As a reader you are left to soak in the intimate narratives, story-tellers’ interpretations, and all the attendant emotions. Then you draw your own conclusions. I found the book riveting and highly effective for building understanding what it means to be a dissident or outside the circle of power of Syria’s incumbent Assad regime.

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  • toni
  • Vero Beach, FL, United States
  • 04-20-18

An important account of the Syrian dilemma

Through the voices of the Syrians who have lived it, left it and want to return to their homeland, this account is a powerful vista of the varied positions of the people who are ‘visitors’ in sheltering countries. The presentation is powerful because it utilizes many readers to transmit the idea of identity.
A must read for the international perspective it imparts.