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Review Essay

The Ways of Syria

Stasis in Damascus

In This Review

The View From Damascus: State, Political Community, and Foreign Relations in the Twentieth-Century Syria
The View From Damascus: State, Political Community, and Foreign Relations in the Twentieth-Century Syria
By Itamar Rabinovich
Vallentine Mitchell, 2008, 365 pp. $49.95 Purchase

In one of his sweeping insights, Henry Kissinger once captured the forces at play in Syrian history. "Damascus is at one and the same time the fount of modern Arab nationalism and the exhibit of its frustrations," he wrote. "Syrian history alternates achievement with catastrophe. . . . The injustice of foreigners is burned deep into the Syrian soul." A big and commanding new book of history and diplomacy by the Israeli scholar Itamar Rabinovich takes readers deep into the world of the Syrian state -- and into that mix of pride and injury that has shaped its modern history. Rabinovich tracks the twists and turns of Syria's political journey in recent decades, its transformation from the plaything of outside powers into a player of consequence in the Levant. No other writer has dug as deep into such material as Rabinovich has in this book, a distillation of a lifetime of concern with

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