The Rise and Fall of Syria's Great Merchant City
by Philip Mansel
A celebration of the history of Aleppo, now a tragic casualty of Syria's civil war
Aleppo is now a city in ruins, bombed by the Syrian air force, threatened by ISIL, its population decimated. But it was once a world city. Philip Mansel reveals the little-known but vibrant history of Aleppo, one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities.
"Philip Mansel, our greatest authority on the civilisation of the Levant, has written a characteristically concise and elegant elegy... As tragic as it is timely, this book succeeds magnificently in showing why we should mourn the fall of Aleppo"
Collating a rich array of contemporary accounts by British and French consuls and merchants who for 400 years called Aleppo home, Mansel uncovers a cultural melting pot, famed in the Ottoman Empire for its souks, its food and its music. We learn how Aleppo was a crossroads of East and West, where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived and traded together in peace for five centuries. In this timely book Philip Mansel describes Aleppo's decline from a pinnacle of cultural and economic power. It is a poignant testament to a city shattered by Syria’s civil war, and a warning to other world cities, from London and Paris to Dubai.
"A compelling portrait of one of the Middle East's greatest cities, by one of the finest modern historians of the Levant. Mansel’s Aleppo reminds modern readers of the loss to world heritage inflicted by Syria’s tragic civil war. An important and outstanding book" - Eugene Rogan
Aleppo published on 10th of March. Philip will be speaking at Chalke Valley Festival on 3rd July
Philip Mansel is a historian of France and the Middle East. He has lived in Paris, Beirut and Istanbul, and often visited Aleppo. In 2012 he won the London Library Life in Literature Award, and in 2013 became a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. His most recent publication is The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon (2015). Aleppo: The Rise and Fall of Syria's Great Merchant City is his third book on cosmopolitan cities of the Middle East, after Constantinople: City of the World's Desire (1995), on Istanbul, and Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (2010), on Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut.
"Elegant and elegiac, Aleppo is a precious monument to a once-splendid city that has been reduced to abject ruin and misery"-
Justin Marozzi, The Spectator