Today Syria is a country known for all the wrong reasons: civil war, vicious sectarianism, and major humanitarian crisis.
But how did this once rich, multi-cultural society end up as the site of one of the twenty-first century's most devastating and brutal conflicts?
In this incisive book, internationally-renowned Syria expert David Lesch takes the reader on an illuminating journey through the last hundred years of Syrian history - from the end of the Ottoman Empire through to the current civil war.
Tracing Syria's role in World War One, its post-independence instability, involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its relationships with its neighbors and superpowers, Lesch also highlights the socio-economic and cultural developments that helped to lay the groundwork for Syria's descent into chaos after the Arab Spring.
The Syria he reveals is a fractured mosaic, whose identity (or lack thereof) has played a crucial part in its trajectory over the past century.
Only through understanding the complexities and challenges of Syria's history can this pivotal country in the Middle East begin to rebuild and heal.