A False Promise of Spring, Historian James Reilly’s New Book, “Fragile Nation, Shattered Land: The Modern History of Syria," Explains Syria's Descent into Civil War

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Seeking an explanation for Syria’s descent into the ruins of civil war, author James Reilly traces the country’s history from the Ottoman period to the present.

This book will be a certain, and immediate, classic. It is likely to be the best book published on Syria for a long time…. Outstanding.

“With his deep understanding of Syria, James Reilly has produced a masterpiece that illuminates the country’s convoluted past and tragic present…. If there is one book you have to read about Syria to better understand the reasons behind its fragility, this is it.” —Omer Taspinar, US National War College and the Brookings Institution

“This book will be a certain, and immediate, classic. It is likely to be the best book published on Syria for a long time…. Outstanding.” —Michael Provence, University of California, San Diego

How did the lands that are today Syria survive the vicissitudes of centuries of Ottoman, Egyptian, and French rule, only to stand now in ruins, shattered by a brutal civil war? Historian James Reilly’s sweeping new book, "Fragile Nation, Shattered Land: The Modern History of Syria", provides answers, tracing five centuries of Syrian history from the Ottoman period to the present.

Reilly brings to life the myriad historical, cultural, social, economic, and political factors that have bound Syrians together, as well as those that have torn them apart. Drawing on extensive primary sources and recent historiography in English, French, and Arabic, he has written an essential book for those who want to understand not only contemporary Syria, but also the Middle East region.

Written for a general readership, this 500-year history is told here in all of its color and complexity, featuring maps and illustrations as well as a chronology, glossary, and who’s who section.    

James A. Reilly is professor of history at the University of Toronto. His previous publications include A Small Town in Syria and The Ottoman Cities of Lebanon.

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