A Disappearance in Damascus : Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War
by Deborah Campbell


Overview -

Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Winner of the Freedom to Read Award

Winner of the Hubert Evans Prize


In the midst of an unfolding international crisis, renowned journalist Deborah Campbell finds herself swept up in the mysterious disappearance of Ahlam, her guide and friend.  Read more...


 
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More About A Disappearance in Damascus by Deborah Campbell
 
 
 
Overview

Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Winner of the Freedom to Read Award

Winner of the Hubert Evans Prize


In the midst of an unfolding international crisis, renowned journalist Deborah Campbell finds herself swept up in the mysterious disappearance of Ahlam, her guide and friend. Campbell's frank, personal account of a journey through fear and the triumph of friendship and courage is as riveting as it is illuminating.

The story begins in 2007, when Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There she meets and hires Ahlam, a refugee working as a "fixer"--providing Western media with trustworthy information and contacts to help get the news out. Ahlam has fled her home in Iraq after being kidnapped while running a humanitarian center. She supports her husband and two children while working to set up a makeshift school for displaced girls. Strong and charismatic, she has become an unofficial leader of the refugee community.

Campbell is inspired by Ahlam's determination to create something good amid so much suffering, and the two women become close friends. But one morning, Ahlam is seized from her home in front of Campbell's eyes. Haunted by the prospect that their work together has led to her friend's arrest, Campbell spends the months that follow desperately trying to find Ahlam--all the while fearing she could be next.

The compelling story of two women caught up in the shadowy politics behind today's most searing conflict, A Disappearance in Damascus reminds us of the courage of those who risk their lives to bring us the world's news.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781250147875
  • ISBN-10: 1250147875
  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Publish Date: September 2017
  • Page Count: 352
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.95 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Middle East - General
Books > History > Military - Iraq War (2003-2011)
Books > Political Science > World - Middle Eastern

 
BookPage Reviews

An unshakable bond, forged in chaos

Canadian journalist Deborah Campbell traveled to Damascus, Syria, in 2007 to report on the mass exodus of Iraqis into Syria in the wake of sectarian violence after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There, she met an Iraqi woman named Ahlam who would not only change her life but also draw her into the very story on which she was reporting.

Campbell hired Ahlam as a “fixer,” a local who helps journalists arrange interviews, interprets and provides context to what journalists see and hear. Ahlam was one of the best: A smart, bold and kind mother of two, she spent her life helping others, even starting a school in her apartment for refugee girls. Not only was she an invaluable resource, she quickly became Campbell’s cherished friend.

A Disappearance in Damascus: Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War is the fascinating account of both Ahlam’s story and Campbell’s life posing as a professor while working as an “undercover” journalist in Syria. Although the country’s civil war had yet to start, Syria was a dangerous place. One day, Ahlam was suddenly arrested and imprisoned, whisked away to an uncertain fate. Desperately worried and fearing that their work together may have contributed to Ahlam’s arrest, Campbell upended her life to try to help her friend. “Caught in a web of fear and suspicion,” she writes, “I wanted to run for cover but knew I had to stay and look for her.” In riveting, heartbreaking detail, Campbell seamlessly weaves together her own search and investigation with Ahlam’s horrific imprisonment and interrogation.

Campbell also provides an excellent primer on how the Middle East’s complex history has contributed to the area’s strife. This is an important, chilling book that explores the ongoing plight of Syria’s citizens and refugees, as well as the perilous struggles of the journalists who deliver their stories to the rest of the world.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews