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A DISAPPEARANCE IN DAMASCUS  –  Fall 2016, Knopf Canada

A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War

A Disappearance in DamascusDid I find her or did she find me? I wrote that question in my reporter’s notebook soon after I met Ahlam, the Iraqi woman who was to change my life. It was 2007 and we had only recently begun working together in Damascus. I was the journalist; she was my interpreter and guide—my “fixer”—connecting me to refugees from Iraq… As she led me ever deeper inside the hidden world of the war she had fled, and into the increasingly unstable country of Syria where she had sought refuge from Iraq, she showed me what survival looks like with all the scaffolding of normal life ripped away. When I wrote that question, I had no idea what it would come to mean nearly a year later, when she was taken from me by agents of the secret police.”


“Gripping, inspiring, and at times intensely sorrowful, A Disappearance in Damascus provides a portrait of tremendous courage and resourcefulness within the community of Iraqi war survivors in Syria, the devastation war wreaks upon civilians, and a remarkable friendship between two women.” —Phil Klay, winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Redeployment

“Paced like a good novel…A Disappearance in Damascus is vivid, provocative and timely.”  —Literary Review of Canada

“Campbell’s exploration of ‘hidden’ worlds, where past and future conflicts converge and confront the intricacies of human relationships, invests A Disappearance in Damascus with the kind of immediacy rarely found in war reporting….On the surface, it is a detective novel, a eulogy to the dying art of immersive journalism. Slightly deeper is a story of love and friendship, and the forces that can tear them apart or make them stronger. Deeper still is a political exegesis exposing the arrogance and folly of the great (and not so great) powers.…Campbell deftly unravels all of these complexities, gives them a face, makes them human, so we can finally start to make sense of the incomprehensibility of the world’s most intractable conflict.”
—Adnan R. Khan, Maclean’s magazine