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New Release: Hashim Othman's history of modern Syria

Egyptian researcher Hashim Othman's new book goes a long way to filling in gaps in Syria's contemporary history from 1918 to 1971

Reuters, Tuesday 21 Feb 2012
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Tareekh Surya Al Hadeeth (Modern Syrian History), by Othman Hashim, Beirut: Ryad Al-Rayyes, 2012. 447pp.

After frequent complaints that Syria’s modern history has never been adequately documented, researcher Othman Hashim has taken up the challenge with his book Tareekh Surya Al-Hadeeth (Modern Syrian History).

"I complained, and so did many others, that there’s not a single book that includes Syria's modern history, from the era of Sharif Hussein's revolution in the Hejaz to the era of the Baath Party, accurately recording the events of these periods," Hashim writes in the book's introduction. "Nevertheless, we can't ignore the contributions of earlier studies tackling particular phases of history, like the Ottoman era and the Faisal era."

Nor does Othman ignore material written about other revolutions, “like the Sheikh Saleh Al-Aly revolution, the Ibrahim Hananou revolution, the Grand Syrian Revolution led by Sultan Al-Atrash Pasha, and others."

Sources used for the book include newspapers and magazines published in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, in addition to memoirs by political and military figures published in recent years, statements by political parties and debates between parliamentarians.

The book divides Syrian history into ten phases, starting from 1918 until 1971. "We stopped at the phase known as 'the corrective movement' by Hafiz Al-Asaad on 16 November 1971," says the author. "And, in addition to recording the history, there are numerous documents and statements issued during that time."

According to the author, much of Syria's contemporary history remains largely unknown until now as a result of this lack of documentation.  

"The reader will be as shocked as we were that Syrian history from the Faisal era until now was drawn exclusively by politicians and army officers," Hashim writes, noting the many "rumours... of their involvement with foreign agencies and Arab regimes linked to the West, whose objectives they were carrying out.”

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