My rating: 4 stars
Janine di Giovanni has covered many wars throughout her career, and her experience writing about such a complicated subject is noticeable in The Morning They came for Us: Dispatches from Syria. This is a non-fiction book specifically about the brutality of the civil war that is tearing Syria apart. But, as she remembers the readers, this is a war that shares many characteristics with other armed conflicts, like the one that took place in the former Yugoslavia.
Throughout the book we are presented with stories from the places the author went to in Syria and snippets from conversations she had with its inhabitants, mixed with quite important general information about the civil war. There are various mentions of sexual violence being used as a war tactic to cause fear in the population, of cases of torture of opposition members by the officers loyal to the Assad regime, of how children suffer immensely during the war, both physically and psychologically, and of the divisions between the different ethnicities and religions.
At first, I thought that the book should have featured right at the beginning a chapter dedicated to the inception of the war, how it all started with peaceful demonstrations (slogans, marching, chanting), which then gained a more violent nature. Such information is presented throughout the book connected with people’s stories, though, and that ends up working quite well, at least for someone who is already familiar with what happened in Syria through the news. Continue reading