Fritz Agency
Published by
W.W. Norton (March 2018)
Current material


Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria

by Abouzeid, Rania

This astonishing book by the prize-winning journalist Rania Abouzeid tells the tragedy of the Syrian War through the dramatic stories of four young people seeking safety and freedom in a shattered country.

Extending back to the first demonstrations of 2011, No Turning Back dissects the tangle of ideologies and allegiances that make up the Syrian conflict. As protests ignited in Daraa, some citizens were brimming with a sense of possibility. A privileged young man named Suleiman posted videos of the protests online, full of hope for justice and democracy. A father of two named Mohammad, secretly radicalized and newly released from prison, saw a darker opportunity in the unrest. When violence broke out in Homs, a poet named Abu Azzam became an unlikely commander in a Free Syrian Army militia. The regime's brutal response disrupted a family in Idlib province, where a nine-year-old girl opened the door to a military raid that caused her father to flee. As the bombings increased and roads grew more dangerous, these people's lives intertwined in unexpected ways.

Rania Abouzeid brings readers deep inside Assad's prisons, to covert meetings where foreign states and organizations manipulated the rebels, and to the highest levels of Islamic militancy and the formation of ISIS. Based on more than five years of clandestine reporting on the front lines, No Turning Back is an utterly engrossing human drama full of vivid, indelible characters that shows how hope can flourish even amid one of the twenty-first century's greatest humanitarian disasters.

Rania Abouzeid has won the Michael Kelly Award and George Polk Award for foreign reporting, among many other prizes for international journalism. She has written for The New Yorker, Time, Foreign Affairs, Politico, the Guardian, and the Los Angeles Times. A former New America fellow, she lives in Beirut, Lebanon.

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The civil war in Syria is the most catastrophic event of our time, and the most dimly understood. Most journalists won't go near it. Rania Abouzeid has produced a work of stunning reportage from the very heart of the conflict, daring to go to the most dangerous places in order to get the story. The result is a sensational book that allows us a deeper, and more humane, understanding of this terrible war; it's a credit to Abouzeid's bravery and fortitude. - Dexter Filkins, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Forever War

Quote: Blurb

Readers without familiarity with the many strains of opposition to the Assad regime are likely to emerge from this book a touch less confused ... An eye-opening account of those who 'played a pivotal role in the revolution's trajectory.

Review: Kirkus Reviews

Winner of the George Polk Award for foreign reporting 2015

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Winner of the Cornelius Ryan Award for Best Nonfiction Book on International Affairs from the Overseas Press Club

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A brilliant, detailed work on a devastating topic.

Review: Library Journal

[M]asterful, intense Abouzeid's altogether intimate, revealing, and moving accomplishment is essential to any attempt to understand this tragedy.

Review: Booklist

2015 winner of the Michael Kelly award for reporting in Syria

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Winner of the Lionel Gelber Prize, "a literary award for the world's best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues" (Wikipedia).

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Finalist for the 2019 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism

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Rania Abouzeid has written an intimate portrait of a chaotic war. Her profiles of Syrians caught up in the savage unraveling of the country heightens the tragedy, a lens missing from the news stories. This book is a must read for anyone who has watched the seemingly incomprehensible horror and for policy makers who must try to stop the violence.

Review: NPR

Her narrative . offers page after page of extraordinary reporting and many flashes of exquisitely descriptive prose. But it is the characters around whom the story is build who make the book unforgettable Abouzeid navigated this increasingly treacherous terrain [Assad's machinations] with legendary courage as she wrote for Foreign Affairs and other publications, building the stories of the people in this book around long, repeated interviews and, often, long days and nights under fire alongside them. The result is a tremendous sense of intimacy with the victims and the violence that surrounds them Abouzeid's remarkable journalistic and literary work has given us, at last, a book worthy of the enormous tragedy that is Syria.

Review: The New York Times Book Review

UK: Oneworld; NL: Nieuw Amsterdam; Poland: Poznanskie

Foreign licence: Client

In No Turning Back, Rania Abouzeid brings you up close and personal to the men and women who led the uprising in Syria. Abouzeid understands these people so well and her writing is so vivid that they practically jump off the page with all their dreams, ideals and misplaced optimism. After No Turning Back, you won't be able to hear anything more about Syria without feeling that you too know the people who are living (and dying) through it. —Barbara Demick, National Book Award finalist for Nothing to Envy, and author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood

Quote: Blurb

Shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize Judges said: “This striking, beautifully written book manages to highlight many threads that have often been ignored in favour of ‘covering the conflict' - those of peoples' stories from all walks of Syrian life, deftly linked into the global political landscape across decades.” (from the Bookseller article)

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