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Syria's descent into chaos since 2011 has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, while more than nine million people have fled their homes. In this timely account, John McHugo charts the history of Syria from the First World War to the present and considers why Syria's foundations as a nation have proved so fragile. He examines the country's thwarted attempts at independence under French rule before turning to more recent events: two generations of rule by the Assad family, sectarian tensions, the pressures that turned an aborted revolution into a proxy war, and the appearance of ISIS. As the conflict in Syria rages on, McHugo provides a rare and authoritative guide to a complex nation that demands our attention.