Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars (Routledge, 2018)
Days of the Fall takes the reader into the heart of the terrible wars in Syria and Iraq. The book combines frontline reporting with analysis of the deeper causes and effects of the conflict.
Over five years, Jonathan Spyer reported from the depths of the wars, spending time in Aleppo, Baghdad, Damascus, Mosul, Idlib, Hasaka and other frontline areas. He witnessed some of the most dramatic events of the conflict – the rescue of the trapped Yezidis from the attempted ISIS genocide in 2014, the Assad regime’s assault on Aleppo, the rise of independent Kurdish power in north east Syria, the emergence of the Shia militias in Iraq as a key force. The book depicts these events, and seeks to place them within a broader framework. The author notes the ethnic and sectarian faultlines in both Syria and Iraq, and contends that both countries have now effectively separated along these lines, leading to the emergence of de facto fragmentation and the birth of a number of new entities. The book also notes that this confused space has now become an arena for proxy conflict between regional and global powers.
Containing interviews with key figures from all sides of the conflict, such as the Shia militias in Iraq, and even ISIS members, Days of the Fall serves as an invaluable and comprehensive guide to the complex dynamics and the tragic human impact of the wars.
The Transforming Fire: the Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2010).
The Transforming Fire sets out to explain how the rise of Islamism is changing the nature of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
For a time, the Arab-Israeli conflict seemed a fight over real-estate and recognition, but in recent years it has transformed into an existential battle between Israel and radical Islamism. Today, Israel faces a rising force that is committed to its demise.
Spyer provides a vivid account of what can now be called the Israel-Islamist conflict, outlining the issues at stake and gauging each side’s relative strengths and weaknesses. Israel faces not one united Islamist movement, but an array of states and organizations that share a wish to destroy Jewish sovereignty.
Combining narrative and argument, Spyer uses first-person accounts of key moments in the conflict to highlight the human impact of this battle of wills. A thought-provoking, balanced work, The Transforming Fire provides a new understanding of a particular aspect of the larger conflict between radical Islam and the West, which may well become the key foreign policy challenge of the 21st century.
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