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BOOK TALK | We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices From Syria

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About the Book: We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices From Syria


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.

Author Bio:

Wendy Pearlman is an Associate Professor; and Martin and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching  Professor at North Western University.

Wendy has studied or conducted research in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She has written two books and more than a dozen articles or book chapters about the Palestinian national movement, focusing on internal politics and the causes and consequences of political violence.

Wendy is also co-authoring a second book with Boaz Atzili (American University). It examines “triadic coercion”: the situation when a state uses violence and/or threats against another state to compel it to stop violence from a nonstate actor on its territory. The manuscript offers a critical analysis of sixty-five years of Israel’s experience with this policy.

Wendy has received fellowships from Fulbright, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Northwestern’s Buffett Institute. She has been awarded the Weinberg College Distinguished Teaching Award and has three times been elected to the Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll. Her articles have received prizes from the Syrian Studies Association and the Moise Khayrallah Lebanese Diaspora Studies Center.