About the Book
Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.
Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy and human rights. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.
Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.
About the Author
Wendy Pearlman is a professor and award-winning teacher at Northwestern University, specializing in Middle East politics. Educated at Harvard, Georgetown, and Brown, Pearlman speaks Arabic and has spent more than twenty years studying and living in the Arab World. She is the author of numerous articles and four books, including Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (Nation Books, 2003), Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and Triadic Coercion: Israel’s Targeting of States that Host Nonstate Actors (with Boaz Atzili, Columbia University Press, 2018). Her book We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria (Custom House, June 2017) has been called “essential reading” by the New York Times, and been recommended in reviews in the New Yorker, Times Literary Supplement, and Chicago Review of Books, among other outlets. A review in The Guardian calls the book, “heart-stopping,” adding: “Syrians, Pearlman writes, are too often cast as ‘victims to be pitied, bodies to be sheltered, radicals to be denounced or threats to be feared ... it can be difficult to find chances to listen to actual Syrians as human beings’. But she has listened.” Pearlman lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Where to Obtain Book
Kansas City Library – 8 copies, e-book, audio book
Johnson County Library – 4 copies, e-book, audio book
Mid Continent Library – 4 copies, e-book
About Book Club
The IRC Book Club gives participants the opportunity to discuss foreign affairs, global topics, authors' perspectives, historical events, and their current local relevance in a respectful, engaging setting. Convened by seasoned Great Decisions leader Jack McLaren, the group meets every six to eight weeks to dig into a different author's work.