At the height of the Syrian Civil War, deep beneath the shattered streets of rebel-held Darayya was a secret library. This basement room filled with thousands of books, rescued under constant sniper fire from gutted buildings, was an oasis of normality in a country at war with itself.
... a compassionate and inspiring portrait of a town where, one of the founders tells him, 'fuel for our souls' was an essential need ... Thomson’s book may help the outside world better understand Syrians. The country’s rich literary history has been overshadowed by the turmoil of civil war, and Daraya’s secret library is a testament to the Syrian people’s long pursuit of knowledge in both good and bad times.
Thomson helpfully provides background on Daraya and events of the civil war to give context to the narrative. One small drawback is that the author tends to insert unnecessarily his own experiences and reactions into the story, although the Syrians’ harrowing accounts speak for themselves ... A compelling window into the lives of Syrians’ living in a war zone. Recommended for readers interested in the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis.
Telling an extraordinary story with consummate narrative skill, putting readers directly in the thick of the action, Thomson grabs our attention from the beginning and doesn’t let go ... Throughout the book, readers will be impressed and inspired by the resilience of these people ... Thomson’s reporting is unquestionably thorough and compassionate ... A fantastic, timely story, beautifully told, of a civilization’s refusal to die.