99 books like Assad or We Burn the Country

By Sam Dagher,

Here are 99 books that Assad or We Burn the Country fans have personally recommended if you like Assad or We Burn the Country. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Lord of All the Dead

Jonathan Spyer Author Of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

From my list on the human impact of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and journalist. I grew up in London’s Jewish community, and lived in Israel and Jerusalem for most of my life. I'm fascinated by the Mid-East region, its history, religions, music, cultures, and colors, and by Jewish history. As a result of my experiences as a soldier in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and the Second Intifada of 2000-4, my focus on conflict became central to my work. After the 2006 war, I became a conflict reporter, and I've covered war and insurgency in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon, and Israel/West Bank/Gaza for a variety of publications. I also like to focus on the ways war and conflict impact human lives.   

Jonathan's book list on the human impact of war

Jonathan Spyer Why did Jonathan love this book?

In this book, Javier Cercas, a Spanish journalist and novelist, sets off on a journey to discover the truth about his great-uncle, Manuel Mena, who was killed aged 19 at the Battle of the Ebro, during the Spanish Civil war. Cercas is a man of the center-left, but his relative was killed while fighting on the side of General Franco’s nationalist, anti-Communist and anti-democratic insurgency. This book is about the way that conflict and its memory remains present in families over subsequent generations, shaping subsequent lives in myriad ways, sometimes unseen. It is of particular value I think because of the way in which Cercas manages to examine his opposition to the cause with which his great-uncle served, and his deep sense of linkage to his relative, without ever compromising either.  

By Javier Cercas, Anne McLean (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lord of All the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lord of All the Dead is a courageous journey into Javier Cercas' family history and that of a country collapsing from a fratricidal war. The author revisits Ibahernando, his parents' village in southern Spain, to research the life of Manuel Mena. This ancestor, dearly loved by Cercas' mother, died in combat at the age of nineteen during the battle of the Ebro, the bloodiest episode in Spain's history.

Who was Manuel Mena? A fascist hero whose memory is an embarrassment to the author, or a young idealist who happened to fight on the wrong side? And how should we judge…


Book cover of Magic Seeds

Jonathan Spyer Author Of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

From my list on the human impact of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and journalist. I grew up in London’s Jewish community, and lived in Israel and Jerusalem for most of my life. I'm fascinated by the Mid-East region, its history, religions, music, cultures, and colors, and by Jewish history. As a result of my experiences as a soldier in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and the Second Intifada of 2000-4, my focus on conflict became central to my work. After the 2006 war, I became a conflict reporter, and I've covered war and insurgency in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon, and Israel/West Bank/Gaza for a variety of publications. I also like to focus on the ways war and conflict impact human lives.   

Jonathan's book list on the human impact of war

Jonathan Spyer Why did Jonathan love this book?

Naipaul was one of the greatest English language writers of the last century, in my view. In this novel he traces the fortunes of one Willie Chandran, an Indian resident in the UK, who makes his way to India to join a rural Maoist insurgency against the Indian authorities. The book is a fascinatingly original description of and take on insurgent warfare, fascinating precisely because Naipaul is not a writer especially interested in war, or the usual themes that govern literary treatments of it. As a result, the parts of the book dealing with the insurgency succeed in a masterful and haunting description of the people involved and the conditions they are facing, while entirely avoiding the pitfalls of both sentimentality and cliché.  

By V.S. Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magic Seeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul’s magnificent Magic Seeds continues the story of Willie Chandran, the perennially dissatisfied and self-destructively naive protagonist of his bestselling Half a Life.
Having left a wife and a livelihood in Africa, Willie is persuaded to return to his native India to join an underground movement on behalf of its oppressed lower castes. Instead he finds himself in the company of dilettantes and psychopaths, relentlessly hunted by police and spurned by the people he means to liberate. But this is only one stop in a quest for authenticity that takes in all the fanaticism and folly…


Book cover of Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944

Jonathan Spyer Author Of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

From my list on the human impact of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and journalist. I grew up in London’s Jewish community, and lived in Israel and Jerusalem for most of my life. I'm fascinated by the Mid-East region, its history, religions, music, cultures, and colors, and by Jewish history. As a result of my experiences as a soldier in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and the Second Intifada of 2000-4, my focus on conflict became central to my work. After the 2006 war, I became a conflict reporter, and I've covered war and insurgency in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon, and Israel/West Bank/Gaza for a variety of publications. I also like to focus on the ways war and conflict impact human lives.   

Jonathan's book list on the human impact of war

Jonathan Spyer Why did Jonathan love this book?

Max Hastings here describes the fight between the 10th SS Panzer Division and the French resistance forces, assisted by the British Special Operations Executive, in France in the period following D-Day, 1944. Hastings is in my view a peerless writer on conflict and military history, with a deep understanding of the costs of conflict on individuals, and considerable empathy for those caught up in it. I like that this empathy does not result in excessive romanticization of those engaged here in the irregular warfare against the Nazi German forces. Despite the unambiguous and obvious rights and wrongs of the conflict here described, the author never loses sight of the complexity of human motivations among the combatants, and indeed of the tactical errors and sometimes costly foolishness on the allied side as well as the German.  

By Max Hastings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Das Reich as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Within days of the D-Day landings, the 'Das Reich' 2nd SS Panzer Division pushed north through France to reinforce Hitler's front-line defences in Europe. This is an account of these veterans who had participated in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Russian front, and how they were hounded on their march by the Resistance and the Allied Special


Book cover of Killing Rage

Jonathan Spyer Author Of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

From my list on the human impact of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and journalist. I grew up in London’s Jewish community, and lived in Israel and Jerusalem for most of my life. I'm fascinated by the Mid-East region, its history, religions, music, cultures, and colors, and by Jewish history. As a result of my experiences as a soldier in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and the Second Intifada of 2000-4, my focus on conflict became central to my work. After the 2006 war, I became a conflict reporter, and I've covered war and insurgency in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Ukraine, Lebanon, and Israel/West Bank/Gaza for a variety of publications. I also like to focus on the ways war and conflict impact human lives.   

Jonathan's book list on the human impact of war

Jonathan Spyer Why did Jonathan love this book?

The author of this fascinating book was an intelligence officer in a unit of the Provisional IRA, in the town of Newry in Northern Ireland, in the 1980s. Later, he broke under British interrogation and gave evidence against his former comrades. Though he later retracted the evidence, he was subsequently murdered, almost certainly by individuals linked to the republican movement. The book details the author’s reasons for joining the IRA, and his role in the movement’s armed campaign. Collins’s task was to seek out individuals linked in one way or another to British forces in the Newry area and then to facilitate their killing by the IRA. The book is written from a position of deep disillusionment with the campaign in which the author was engaged. It offers unique insight into some of the workings of this organization, and into the nature and motivations of the people involved.   

By Eamon Collins, Mick McGovern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Killing Rage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an account of how an angry young man can cross the line that divides theoretical support for violence from a state of 'killing rage', in which the murder of neighbour becomes thinkable. Over 3000 people have died in Northern Ireland since 1969, and most of them have died at the hands of their neighbours. The intimacy of the Ulster conflict, what it means to carry out a political murder when in all probability the victim is personally known, or lives in a nearby street, is described accurately by an honest participant. The book does not attempt to soften…


Book cover of Mirror to Damascus

Dawn Chatty Author Of Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State

From my list on capturing the essence of Syria and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a social anthropologist who has lived, dreamed, and worked in Syria most of her life. Having spent my childhood in Damascus I always yearned to return. After completing my PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the economy of modern Bedouin Tribes, I won a Fulbright award to teach at the University of Damascus. Since then, Damascus has been at the centre of my academic and social life. I met my husband there, a British helicopter pilot, sent there to learn Arabic. I'm an emeritus professor of anthropology and forced migration at the University of Oxford and my research has been on the forced migrant communities who make up Syria’s cosmopolitan society.

Dawn's book list on capturing the essence of Syria and its people

Dawn Chatty Why did Dawn love this book?

I found this book in a bookstore in Damascus in 1977 during a two-year Fulbright teaching post at the University of Damascus. Far more than a travel writer’s account of the city – the first in maybe 100 years it was a ‘love note’ to a city that had enchanted the young traveler. Reading it opened my eyes to the immense charm of the city and many of its secrets. Colin Thurbon returned to Damascus 50 years later in 2017 and found the city empty of tourists again. The first time, because it had not yet been ‘discovered’  by European tourists, and the second time because all the tourists had left. But the old city was much unchanged by the Syrian civil war with only limited damage to the Tomb of Salaheddin next to the monumental and breathtakingly beautiful Umayyad mosque.  

By Colin Thubron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mirror to Damascus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 50th anniversary edition of Colin Thubron's celebrated first book, a portrait of Syria's capital city, with a new introduction by the author.

Described by the author as simply 'a work of love', Mirror to Damascus provides a rich and fascinating history of Damascus from the Amorites of the Bible to the revolution of 1966, and is also a charming and witty personal record of an extraordinary city.

In explaining how modern Damascus is rooted in immemorial layers of culture and tradition, Colin Thubron explores the historical, artistic, social and religious inheritance of its people. Along the way, he shares…


Book cover of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War

Dawn Chatty Author Of Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State

From my list on capturing the essence of Syria and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a social anthropologist who has lived, dreamed, and worked in Syria most of her life. Having spent my childhood in Damascus I always yearned to return. After completing my PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the economy of modern Bedouin Tribes, I won a Fulbright award to teach at the University of Damascus. Since then, Damascus has been at the centre of my academic and social life. I met my husband there, a British helicopter pilot, sent there to learn Arabic. I'm an emeritus professor of anthropology and forced migration at the University of Oxford and my research has been on the forced migrant communities who make up Syria’s cosmopolitan society.

Dawn's book list on capturing the essence of Syria and its people

Dawn Chatty Why did Dawn love this book?

I cannot ignore the turmoil that has become Syria over the past decade. Many books have appeared about the peaceful demonstrations that turned violent and a civil war and a proxy war for Iran, Russia, the US, and various Arab states. This book provides a detailed history of how Syria descended into such violence.  It gave me a detailed understanding of how the ‘Opposition’ to the Asad government emerged in the country. And engages with the stories of the Opposition fighters in their exile in adjacent countries. Concluding that the war is not yet over, it provides some hope for those of us who watch from a distance as Russia and Iran reposition and redeploy in response to other critical global events.  

By Robin Yassin-Kassab, Leila Al-Shami,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Burning Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2017*

In 2011, many Syrians took to the streets of Damascus to demand the overthrow of the government of Bashar al-Assad. Today, much of Syria has become a war zone where foreign journalists find it almost impossible to report on life in this devastated land.

Burning Country explores the horrific and complicated reality of life in present-day Syria with unprecedented detail and sophistication, drawing on new first hand testimonies from opposition fighters, exiles lost in an archipelago of refugee camps, and courageous human rights activists among many others. These stories are expertly interwoven with…


Book cover of Frontline Syria: From Revolution to Proxy War

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By: How One Woman Confronted the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time

From my list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Conflict resolution and intergroup relations are my passions. Perhaps because I’m a child of the Holocaust. My parents and I arrived in the U.S. as stateless refugees. The Holocaust primed me to explore why religion inspires so much hate. My career as a criminologist got me interested in the link between religion and violence. My refugee roots led me to an International Rescue Committee report on the Syrian crisis. That report hit me hard and felt very personal because it echoed my own family’s suffering in the Holocaust. I saw an opportunity to build bridges between enemies—Israel and Syria, Jews and Muslims—while also saving lives.  

Georgette's book list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Why did Georgette love this book?

Frontline Syria serves as an “after-action report” of a highly complex conflict. I’ve known the author, David Phillips, since he was a teenager. He grew up to be a prominent diplomat and human rights activist and we worked together for a time. His book analyzes the U.S. response to the Syrian civil war and the proxy war that it is. Frontline Syria is erudite, deep, thorough, comprehensive, and accurately reflects what I’ve come to know about the Syrian crisis in my own work. The timeline at the front is a useful tool for following the myriad events that follow. Other tools include glossaries of acronyms and personalities. 

By David L. Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frontline Syria as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Syrian regime used sarin and other chemical weapons against dissidents in August 2013, an estimated 1729 people were killed including 400 children. President Barack Obama warned that the use of chemical weapons would constitute a "red line", but he refused to take military action. Trump's approach has been even more disengaged and lacking in clarity.

Frontline Syria highlights America's failure to prevent conflict escalation in Syria. Based on interviews with US officials involved in Syria policy, as well as UN personnel, the book draws conclusions about America's role in world affairs and its potential to prevent deadly conflict.…


Book cover of The Cat Man of Aleppo

Lesléa Newman Author Of Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed

From my list on the loving bond between people and cats.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved cats and have lived with many: Princess Sheba Darling, Precious Sammy Dearest, Couscous Kerouac, P.C. (Perfect Cat), Neshama, and Mitzi. Each cat has a distinct personality and quickly taught me how things were going to go: some cats are lap cats, some are not. Some cats are finicky, some cats will eat anything. Some cats slept on my pillow, some cats prowled—and yowled—all night long. In addition to cats, I have always loved picture books and have written many about cats including: Cats, Cats, Cats! Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail, A-B-C Cats, 1-2-3 Cats, and The Best Cat In The World.

Lesléa's book list on the loving bond between people and cats

Lesléa Newman Why did Lesléa love this book?

I was so moved by this true story of Alaa, an ambulance driver who loves his city of Aleppo so much that he chooses to stay there when war breaks out. In addition to helping the people of Aleppo, Alaa helps the hundreds of cats left homeless by the war. His kindness inspires others, who volunteer and donate enough money for Alaa to build a shelter he names “The House of Cats Ernesto” in memory of a friend’s beloved cat. People who visit the shelter are so filled with hope, they donate more money and soon Alaa builds a playground for the children of Aleppo. Kindness begets kindness, and this story lifted my heart and restored my faith in people, most of whom I truly believe are innately kind.

By Irene Latham, Karim Shamsi-Basha, Yuko Shimizu (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Cat Man of Aleppo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Caldecott Honor 2021
Winner of the Middle East Book Award 2020

'A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity.'
Kirkus, starred review

Out of the ravages of war came hope. How an act of kindness inspired millions worldwide.

When war came to Syria, many fled the once-beautiful city of Aleppo and were forced to become refugees in far-flung places. But Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel decided to stay and work as an ambulance driver, helping the civilians that couldn't leave. He quickly realised that it wasn't just people who needed care,…


Book cover of Syria: The Desert and the Sown

Dawn Chatty Author Of Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State

From my list on capturing the essence of Syria and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a social anthropologist who has lived, dreamed, and worked in Syria most of her life. Having spent my childhood in Damascus I always yearned to return. After completing my PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the economy of modern Bedouin Tribes, I won a Fulbright award to teach at the University of Damascus. Since then, Damascus has been at the centre of my academic and social life. I met my husband there, a British helicopter pilot, sent there to learn Arabic. I'm an emeritus professor of anthropology and forced migration at the University of Oxford and my research has been on the forced migrant communities who make up Syria’s cosmopolitan society.

Dawn's book list on capturing the essence of Syria and its people

Dawn Chatty Why did Dawn love this book?

The Desert and the Sown is perhaps the most personal of all Gertrude Bell’s travel books revealing a deeply affectionate engagement with the people and places of Syria. It is the first of her books that I read while researching the subject of Bedouin tribes in early 20th century Syria. I wanted to know what connection the Bedouin tribal elites had to the major trading cities such as Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo. There, in her description of Damascus, she revealed the evidence I had been looking for: “In Damascus the sheikhs of the richer tribes have their townhouses; you may meet Muhammad of the Hasene or Bassan of the Beni Rashid peacocking down the bazaars on a fine Friday; in embroidered cloaks and purple and silver kerchiefs fastened about their brows with camel’s hair ropes bound with gold…” I can just see those tribal leaders now in my mind’s…

By Gertrude Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Syria as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'You may rely upon one thing - I'll never engage in creating kings again; it's too great a strain.'

Gertrude Bell - traveller, scholar, archaeologist, spy - was one of the most powerful figures in the Middle East in the 20th century. With T.E. Lawrence, she was a significant force behind the Arab Revolt and was responsible for creating the boundaries of the modern state of Iraq, as well as installing the Hashemite dynasty, with Faisal I as king, in Iraq and Transjordan. Her knowledge of the Arab world was forged through decades of travel and the relationships she built…


Book cover of The Home That Was Our Country

Danny Ramadan Author Of Crooked Teeth: A Queer Syrian Refugee Memoir

From my list on memoirs written refugees and immigrants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have gone through the refugee experience, and it has shaped me. I grew up queer in Syria, became a man in Egypt, a refugee in Lebanon, then an author in Canada. At the expense of romanticizing something so deeply painful, I do believe that the experience has made me a better man. It matured me, offered me a deep connection with others within my community, and built an unmatched appreciation of my culture of home back in Syria and my culture of diaspora here in Canada. As a fiction writer, I am obsessed with writing queer stories about immigration. 

Danny's book list on memoirs written refugees and immigrants

Danny Ramadan Why did Danny love this book?

I read this book back in 2018. As a Syrian writer, I was feeling quite lonely at the time, singular in the publishing community. Someone told me they heard about this book on NPR, and I jumped on it.

The book is a reversal of my own story. The author, a Syrian born in the US, travels back to Syria to search for her grandmother’s home. The observations feel authentic, and the storytelling feels meaningful. I was quite engrossed by the narrative; I could barely put the book down. 

By Alia Malek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Home That Was Our Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the Arab Spring's hopeful start, Alia Malek returned to Damascus to reclaim her grandmother's apartment, which had been lost to her family since Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970. Its loss was central to her parent's decision to make their lives in America. In chronicling the people who lived in the Tahaan building, past and present, Alia portrays the Syrians-the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Armenians, and Kurds-who worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters, mirroring the political shifts in their country. Restoring her family's home as the country comes apart, she learns how to speak the coded language of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Syria, country music, and Damascus?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Syria, country music, and Damascus.

Syria Explore 51 books about Syria
Country Music Explore 97 books about country music
Damascus Explore 14 books about Damascus