Intensely readable! Dan Mayland’s novel unfolds against the backdrop of the Syrian revolution in 2012 and perfectly captures the frustration and anger that turned regular citizens into protesters calling for change in their country. As government retaliation increased, children, women and men became martyrs and mourners meanwhile The Doctor of Aleppo risks his own safety to provide care where he can. While the plot includes the protest and the violent beatings that both major and minor characters endure in the fight for freedom, the title doctor’s medical maneuverings and heroic feats amidst the political upheaval, are what catapult this book from merely a historical rendering to an intense read.
As a married Orthopedic Surgeon, Doctor Sami Hasan works with government officials and those who can afford to pay for care in the University Hospital of Aleppo. Yet he must also accede to his wife’s request to care for her family, although he knows that his in-law’s proclivity to politics is both the source and display board for the injuries they suffer. Syrian-American Hannah and her Swedish boyfriend Oskar have been working with the government to build a local park but Hannah’s dual citizenship is more likely a metaphor for the two ways she can get into and out of situations, jeopardizing those around her even as she relies on their assistance. Rahim Suleiman is Mukhabarat, a member of a government group that identifies and punishes rebels and so committed to his job, that he involves his 15-year-old son as a spy, although he vows revenge when the price becomes too high to pay.
The Doctor of Aleppo may be a work of fiction but reading the pages of this novel feels like entering the reality of tear gas and automatic weapons discharging in the background, where broken bones regularly jut out from bloody clothing and a child’s runny nose is sign of ruptured cerebrospinal fluid. The details are gritty and the characters are relentless even as the reader might beg them to stay in place to evade the disaster he know lurks on the next page, but this thrilling read is a testament to Mayland’s experience with the history as it unfolded and his ability to relate the story so the reader can feel like he was there but also be grateful that he wasn’t.
This is my first encounter with a fictional rendering of the Syrian revolution and it has awakened a desire to know more about a war that was fought in recent history but whose heroes and their accomplishments deserve even more recognition.
Blackstone Publishers and TLC Book Tours generously sent me a complimentary copy of The Doctor of Aleppo in order to complete this review. They are also offering you a chance to win a copy of this thrilling read for yourself. Leave a comment below answering this question to the best of your recollection: Where were you on March 15, 2011 , (the day the Syrian Civil War officially began)?
- Title: The Doctor of Aleppo
- Author: Dan Mayland
- Format: Hardcover
- Pages: 351
- Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
- Publication Date: July, 2020
In the ancient Silk Road city of Aleppo, a young American woman is sucked into the Syrian civil war engulfing the city. Relentlessly pursued by a Javert-like secret police officer, her only refuge is the rebel hospital run by a renowned surgeon. In The Doctor of Aleppo, Dan Mayland, author of the bestselling Mark Sava spy novel series, pairs a thriller writer’s sensibilities with a gripping account of good people cruelly trapped in somebody else’s war.
Dan Mayland is the author of the Mark Sava spy series and The Doctor of Aleppo, novels informed by his long love of history and experiences in the Caspian Region and Middle East. While Azerbaijan was a particular focus beginning in 2005, Mayland also conducted research in Iran prior to the 2009 uprising, in Bahrain shortly after the eruption of the Arab Spring, in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge in 2013, on the Turkey-Syria border after the fall of Aleppo, and more recently in refugee camps on the island of Lesbos, Greece. In these places and others, Mayland has interviewed diplomats, spies, doctors, protestors, aid workers, refugees, and anyone else who will talk to him.
In addition to writing novels, Mayland is a geopolitical forecaster. He stumbled upon this role in 2014 when he was invited to participate in research being funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). After his probabilistic forecasts over nearly two hundred geopolitical questions proved to be more accurate than ninety-nine percent of other research participants, including those of trained intelligence analysts, Mayland was asked to participate in additional research—in which his forecasts proved to be equally accurate. As a result, he now forecasts professionally for Good Judgment Inc., a firm which claims, with ample justification based on their work with the ODNI, to be “the world’s most accurate geo-political and geo-economic forecasting entity.” In that capacity, Mayland provides granular-level insight into specific geopolitical issues—the war in Syria included—for nonprofit, private, and government organizations. Mayland’s analyses of Middle Eastern issues have been translated into Arabic for Middle Eastern clients.
Raised in New Jersey, Mayland received a degree in history from Dartmouth College and after graduating, began writing novels. After detouring into real estate to pay the bills, he resumed writing nearly full time and now lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two children, in an old stone farmhouse he and his wife have restored. He enjoys mountaineering, climbing, skiing, camping, reading, and spending time with his family.
Peer Reviews From Other Authors
”In The Doctor of Aleppo, Dan Mayland lends a human face and a compelling story to a tragedy too large and complicated for most of us to understand. A harrowing and unforgettable read.” —Dana Haynes, author of St. Nicholas Salvage & Wrecking
”Dan Mayland’s The Doctor of Aleppo grips you from the start. His keen storytelling lends insight into war and its brutality through this tale of hope and redemption.” —Judy A. Bernstein, author of Disturbed in Their Nests
”Dan Mayland’s The Doctor of Aleppo turns an unflinching gaze on the reality of modern warfare, fought in neighborhoods rather than a battlefield, where today’s ally is tomorrow’s enemy, and people struggle against all odds to maintain their humanity. A thriller that breaks your heart as it rockets toward its stunning conclusion.” —Gwen Florio, author of Silent Hearts.