Below is an excellent primer on Syria — its history, culture, and the ongoing civil war. It is written by my friend and historian William R. Polk. He has given his correspondents permission to distribute it … I strongly recommend it.
PDF (21 Pages): UNDERSTANDING SYRIA -PART I – POLK
William R. Polk was a Member of the Policy Planning Council, responsible for North Africa, the Middle East and West Asia, for 4 years under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Professor of History at the University of Chicago and President of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs. He is the author of some 17 books on world affairs, including The United States and the Arab World; The Elusive Peace, the Middle East in the Twentieth Century; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency and Terrorism; Neighbors and Strangers: The Fundamentals of Foreign Affairs and numerous articles in Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Harpers, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and Le Monde Diplomatique . He has lectured at many universities and at the Council on Foreign Relations, Chatham House, Sciences Po, the Soviet Academy of Sciences and has appeared frequently on NPR, the BBC, CBS and other networks.