New Book by Professor Eugene Rogan: ‘The Damascus Events’

We are pleased to share news of the recent publication by Professor Eugene Rogan, Director of the Middle East Centre and Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, The Damascus Events: The 1860 Massacre and the Destruction of the Old Ottoman World.

The Damascus Events recreates the lost world of the Middle East under Ottoman rule. The once mighty empire was under pressure from global economic change and European imperial expansion. Reforms in the mid-nineteenth century raised tensions across the empire, nowhere more so than in Damascus. A multifarious city linked by caravan trade to Baghdad, the Mediterranean and Mecca, the chaos of languages, customs and beliefs made Damascus a warily tolerant place. Until the reforms began to advantage the minority Christian community at the expense of the Muslim majority.

But in 1860 people who had generally lived side by side for generations became bitter enemies as news of civil war in Mount Lebanon arrived in the city. Under the threat of a French expeditionary force, the Ottomans dealt with the disaster effectively and ruthlessly – but the old, generally quite tolerant Damascene world lay in ruins. It would take a quarter of a century to restore stability and prosperity to the Syrian capital.

This is both an essential book for understanding the emergence of the modern Middle East from the destruction of the old Ottoman world, and a uniquely gripping story.

A podcast of the book launch, chaired by Professor Avi Shlaim, is available here.

More information is on the Penguin website here and the book is available on Amazon here.

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