Drawing on four decades of direct observation of Turkish society, White explores the complexities of evolving notions of Turkish identity. She focuses mainly on the Muslim nationalists who have emerged since 1980.
Taken together, these four books do not allow readers a full view of the Syrian elephant, but they come close. Starr, a journalist who lived in Damascus for five years, records his encounters with ordinary Syrians and with the state’s intelligence apparatus. Lesch, an American historian, enjoyed unusual access to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other regime stalwarts. Haddad, a Syrian academic, analyzes the business allies of Syria’s Baathist regime. Ajami is a more distant observer than the others, but his stage setting and political sketches are superb.