Amazon ‘Book of the Month’ for March 2018 (publication date)

Apple #iBooksFavorites

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

A New York Times Notable Book of 2018

A Financial Times Best Book of 2018

A CSM 2018 Best Nonfiction Title

Booklist Editors’ Choice for 2018

Finalist for 2019 Lionel Gelber Prize

Winner of the OPC’s Cornelius Ryan Award

Finalist for 2019 NYPL’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism

Shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize


About No Turning BackThis 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.

US COVER (W.W. Norton)

US COVER (W.W. Norton)

UK COVER (OneWorld)

UK COVER (OneWorld)

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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
Rania Abouzeid has not just written a powerful human story of the most tangled war of our time. This is journalism at its very best: brave; personal; written with aching beauty. She has rewritten history’s first draft with great authority.
— Lyse Doucet, BBC presenter and chief international correspondent
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, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, and Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood
Widely recognized as the bravest of reporters… Abouzeid writes with great fluidity and authority about the most important foreign policy and moral crisis of our era. No Turning Back works both on the level of deeply reported personal narratives of a tragedy that continues to unspool and also as a major work of history.
— Peter Bergen, author of United States of Jihad and Manhunt: The Ten Year Search for bin Laden
No Turning Back stands far above anything I have read about the Syrian war. Rania Abouzeid has produced a masterpiece, weaving together the lives of protesters, victims, and remorseless killers at the center of this century’s most appalling human tragedy. No one else, to my knowledge, has reported this story so bravely or narrated it with such intimacy and power.
— Robert F. Worth, author of A Rage for Order. The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS
No Turning Back is a monumental achievement. I can think of few other journalists, past or present, who have reported on any war as courageously, analyzed it as trenchantly, or rendered the lives of its participants and victims as movingly, as Abouzeid has done here for the war in Syria. The book will no doubt endure as a work of literature. But that is incidental. Right now it is an urgent and devastating dispatch from the world as it is.
— Luke Mogelson, author of These Heroic, Happy Dead
A fabulous and illuminating account of the Syrian conflict told by a world-class journalist at the height of her powers. This is about real people, their real stories and how they web together to tell the wider story of a nation in crisis. A rich and rewarding book that informs, excites and inspires. A truly first-class piece of high-end reportage.
— Tim Butcher, author of The Trigger, Blood River, and Chasing the Devil
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 policymakers who must try to stop the violence.
— Deborah Amos, author of Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East
Weaving together the lives of mothers and sons, fighters and civilians, the oppressors and the oppressed in one epic journey, Rania tells the story of a nation in the grips of revolution and social upheaval. From the initial feeling of hope to the ultimate struggle for survival, this is an essential read not only for those interested in Syria and the Middle East, but for anyone who strives to understand the mechanics of a society torn by civil war.
— Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Middle East correspondent for the Guardian
Masterful, intense … Abouzeid’s altogether intimate, revealing, and moving accomplishment is essential to any attempt to understand this tragedy.
— Booklist (starred review)
Harrowing reporting from the front lines of the civil war in Syria. An eye-opening account of those who “played a pivotal role in the revolution’s trajectory.”
— Kirkus
Journalist Rania Abouzeid lets the Syrian people speak for themselves in her sprawling chronicle of the country’s brutal civil war. Abouzeid spent five years undercover to chronicle her subjects’ lives; she had to sneak into the country after being exiled and branded a spy. Her in-depth reporting provides powerful, harrowing context to the headlines about airstrikes and sanctions. Abouzeid has a deep knowledge of the factions and politics fueling the Syrian conflict, but it’s her ground-level snapshots of rallies, raids, and bombings that make No Turning Back so singular and powerful.
— Apple iBooks (#iBookfavorite)
A brilliant, detailed work on a devastating topic.
— Library Journal
[F]inely detailed … a formidable accomplishment.
— Publishers Weekly

'no turning back’ in the news


Excerpt in The New York Times Sunday Review


[A] book of dogged reporting. “Syria has ceased to exist as a unified state,” Abouzeid writes, but her book ensures that the stories of its people will endure.

On the radio - NPR, WNYC, and BBC


“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 … 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.”


* NYT ‘8 New Books We Recommend This Week’

* NYT ‘Making Sense of The Syrian Civil War

Excerpt in the Financial Times

New America Washington DC. March 15, 2018. Video starts at 15.20


New York Times Magazine, ‘At War,’ Q&A with C.J. Chivers

March 15, 2018


Christian Science Monitor Book Review

No Turning Back selected as one of the newspaper’s ’10 Best Books of March.’

MSNBC Morning Joe First Look

March 19, 2018


National Geographic Book Talk

CNN Fareed Zakaria’s GPS


“[An] unparalleled account of the Syrian uprising, drawing on six years of immersive reporting.”

France 24. The Interview, with Francois Picard


“Excellent … [P]robably the most perceptive journalistic account of the war so far, highlighting the individual stories while never losing sight of the broader situation and history …. Abouzeid’s understated bravery and ability to merge into the background speak to the power of immersive eyewitness reporting, foregrounding the experience of the people she meets and writing with modesty.”

PBS NEWSHOUR: Rania Abouzeid has been one of the closest chroniclers of the Syrian conflict, witnessing the first days of peaceful protests, the government's brutal crackdown, the rise of the Islamic State, the intervention of the Russians. Abouzeid joins William Brangham to discuss her book, "No Turning Back: Life, Loss and Hope in Wartime Syria," which tells the story of those who have fought and endured.

Abouzeid carefully disentangles the significance of complex and shifting political, ethnic and religious identities involved, and provides expert historical and political context, maintaining strict objectivity and taking no sides. … This may be the most intimate and epic account yet for the ongoing tragedy of the Syrian civil war.
— Shelf Awareness Book Review


“In recent years, there have been many books about Syria, but in terms of presenting through the eyes of participants and ordinary Syrians how the uprising unfolded and eventually turned into an armed revolt and then a complex mess, one can hardly do better than No Turning Back.”

- Hong Kong Free Press

Indispensable. A masterpiece: a forensic, yet accessible anatomy of how a peaceful uprising was hijacked by external forces who cared less about ridding Syria of dictator Bashar aI-Assad than furthering their own agendas … Abouzeid writes compellingly throughout.
— The Big Issue magazine Book Review

"An extraordinary book on the human cost of the Syrian conflict. … [It] succeeds triumphantly because of the skill and sensitivity of Abouzeid's writing, the depth of her reporting and the extraordinary nature of the stories she tells. As a result, her book has the compelling qualities of a novel, rather than simply a work of reportage."


"A stunning take on Syria’s tragedy. … Abouzeid’s writing is clear, her analysis sharp, her sympathy deep. … The best book I have read on the descent of Syria into dark hell and humanitarian disaster. … Engrossing."



In Open Democracy - ’Reporting Syria: This is a story about people.’ An interview with Rania Abouzeid

In New Humanist magazine - ‘People cannot say they did not know what was happening’

For Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees, a south London community organization - Q&A with author Rania Abouzeid


"To this terrible story, Rania Abouzeid brings bravery, granular vision and stringent sympathy. … You just can't get border crossings, bribes, midnight journeys, disguises, bombing raids, and arrest warrants from a Twitter feed — only from the notebook of a real reporter. Yet there are no heroics here. The experience of Abouzeid's subjects is always more important than her own, a journalistic discipline as welcome as it is rare. No Turning Back won’t tell you what to think about Syria. It will tell you how to think about a war without end, with the humility and compassion Abouzeid's craft inspires."


“A wonderful book by Rania Abouzeid, who has been covering Syria for years. She wrote No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria about her experience covering Syria, and it’s really devastating … I just think it’s a really great book. It’s not a pleasant story, but any time we have an opportunity to better understand that conflict and the devastation, I think we’re better for it.”


"You will not find an end to the seven-year Syrian civil war in this book. You will find extraordinary reporting from a fearless female journalist who has been covering the tragedy since it began, as well as unforgettable stories from survivors, relayed in Abouzeid's jarringly beautiful prose."


"An extraordinary piece of reportage that explains the Syrian war through the stories of individuals caught up in the fighting. Abouzeid’s book has the gripping and tragic qualities of a first-rate novel."

"My book of the year is No Turning Back by Rania Abouzeid. - Gideon Rachman, FT Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent"


"An astonishing work, in its ambition, its scope and its humanity … These stories are woven with consummate skill by Abouzeid who does not moralize and does not judge. Through their lived experiences she has shown the human faces, the human suffering behind the headlines."


"Abouzeid expertly moves between succinct commentary on the context and the lives of a 'cast of characters' who anchor her narrative and humanize it. (Her) eye and ear for the telling detail, the pregnant anecdote, the overheard phone conversation are testimony to her narrative skills. The writing is searing and sparingly beautiful without ever trivializing the destruction and suffering."

Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman

Real News Network: Award-winning journalist Rania Abouzeid discusses her book "No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria," based on years of on-the-ground reporting since the 2011 uprising.

Part one on Idlib:


No Turning Back is “a great gift for anyone who wants to understand what’s happening in Syria … This book centers on the people at the heart of the conflict and brings their experiences to life.”


“It’s the level of journalistic enterprise and gritty ground-level storytelling that sets apart No Turning Back from a thick stack of eyewitness books on the war in Syria. We leave it better informed but also better burdened for the human stories and the seemingly inhuman endurance of war-battered Syrians.”


No Turning Back is “an extraordinary piece of reportage”


“Abouzeid offers an intense, expert, enlightening, and often personalized account of the complicated, catastrophic, and seemingly endless civil war in Syria.”

No Turning Back_FINAL US COVERjpg.jpg



“Rania Abouzeid, who conducted life-threatening reporting to make the book happen, based “No Turning Back” on personal stories of those affected by the Syrian civil war. She gives voice to a handful of the millions of Syrians whose lives were tragically upended by war.”


Books We Couldn’t Put Down in 2018 - including No Turning Back, a “feat of war reporting” that brings “into focus a war that too often feels unclear.”


Great Books to Read in the Christmas Break - including No Turning Back


Books of 2018 - including No Turning Back


The Ten Best Human Rights Books of 2018 - including No Turning Back

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“No Turning Back is ‘a heart-rending, on-the-ground epic (written) with the same verve, sensibility, and poetry that’s always distinguished (Abouzeid’s) magazine writing. It’s a stunning achievement: the book I wish I could have written, if only I were as brave as her.”


No Turning Back “is an almost anthropological chronicle of the conflict … this diary of neighborhoods and lives turned upside down makes it explicitly clear why for Syrians there is no turning back.” - Asia Times


Syria’s Civil War

Season 19 Episode 4 | 26m 46s

The Arab Spring swept across portions of the Middle East as demonstrators protested autocratic rule. They were demanding democracy and greater economic opportunities. The uprisings spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya to Yemen and then to Syria in early 2011. The protests sparked the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. We talk about the conflict’s history.




FINALIST for the Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the world’s best non-fiction book on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues

CITATION: Rania Abouzeid’s remarkable book is a powerful account of the everyday lives of Syrian protestors, killers and their victims. She draws on five years of clandestine reporting from Assad’s prisons, ISIS strongholds and rebel meetings. A deeply moving personal narrative, it highlights the dilemmas of different actors caught in a spiral of violence. NoTurning Back deserves a wide readership for the skill and sensitivity with which it renders intelligible the most shocking tragedy and humanitarian disaster of our times.


WINNER of the Cornelius Ryan Award for the best non-fiction book on international affairs

CITATION: No Turning Back is an extraordinary feat of reporting—a searing account of the lives of Syrians from all sides caught up in a catastrophic war. A fluent Arabic speaker, Abouzeid draws on her years of often dangerous reporting inside the conflict zone and the deep ties she has built up with people of all political and religious persuasions. This allows her to describe and explain in detail Syria’s tragic descent from the optimism of the first peaceful democratic uprisings in 2011 to the sectarian slaughter of civilians and brutal and misguided foreign interventions. Abouzeid spares nothing in describing the appalling torture and endless mass killings of civilians by the Assad regime. But her use of personal narratives and her fluid writing never let us lose track of the humanity of the Syrians suffering on all sides.


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

SPOTLIGHT: Abouzeid’s debut book is is a tremendously compelling read, at times devastating but impossible to put down. … No Turning Back is a masterful work, with Rania Abouzeid thoughtfully interweaving personal narratives, mapping for the reader exactly how one Syria unraveled, becoming multiple Syrias.


SHORTLISTED for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize 2019, awarded to a book of the highest literary merit – fiction, non-fiction or poetry – which best evokes the spirit of a place

CITATION: Despite Syria being so much in the news, 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.