The Doctor of Aleppo by Dan Mayland offers readers a compelling action thriller and confronting modern-history lesson. Read on for our full review.
The Doctor of Aleppo Book Synopsis
While working in the ancient Silk Road city of Aleppo, American Hannah Johnson and her Swedish lover Oskar are drawn into the mounting turbulence of the impending Syrian civil war.
After Oskar is wounded at a street protest one evening, he and Hannah cross paths with Dr. Samir Hasan, a renowned surgeon. As the protests swell into all-out war, Dr. Hasan tends not only to Oskar, but also risks his life, his practice, and his family to tend to a nephew the government has branded an insurgent.
Dr. Hasan’s humanitarian activities come to the attention of a vengeful, Javert-like secret police officer whose son’s death on Dr. Hasan’s watch triggers a series of events that will drag Hannah and Oskar deeper into the war and put Hannah and Dr. Hasan in the officer’s crosshairs.
Both intimate and sweeping in scope, The Doctor of Aleppo lends insight into how the most brutal, devastating war of the twenty-first century is mirrored on the personal scale, leaving scars that can never be healed.
(Blackstone Publishing – August 2020)
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Dan Mayland’s The Doctor of Aleppo is a valuable reminder that despite modern global connectedness, large-scale human tragedies can, and still do, go relatively unchecked. The media news cycle designed to sate short attention spans can harden even the kindest of souls, but thankfully fiction still has the power to cut through and raise lasting awareness.
The idiom, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes” could not be more true. And, this author clearly has the requisite knowledge and experience to offer readers a realistic depiction of life during the most recent Syrian conflict.
Mayland’s lead characters’ conviction to serve others, and heroism in doing so, are unquestionably admirable, but not all are traditionally likeable personalities. For example, the male-female interactions, while likely authentic in this cultural context, proved a barrier between this reader and deeper character engagement.
A story bigger than any single character
But, The Doctor of Aleppo is a story far bigger than any single character. This novel’s character set are well-devised and skilfully employed to shed light on the various combatants and their competing motivations. And the city itself, the ancient juxtaposed with the new, is particularly well-drawn and evocative.
The Aleppo he had known had been a city of manners and civility, of hammams and hidden caravansaries, of universities and soccer stadiums. A city in which Sunni, Shia, and Alawite Muslims, along with Christians, Jews, Druze, nonbelievers, and everyone in between had lived together in at least relative peace. To walk through the souk was to hear languages from all corners of the world. But that city was dead…
Mayland’s depiction of events includes examples of the unthinkable torture and barbarism perpetrated, and the lives needlessly lost or forever scarred. The content in this novel is frequently confronting. But, so too is the realisation that in circumstances like these people’s actions are often based only on suspected allegiance, misinformation or even personal revenge.
Particularly moving also is the message that society’s loss extends far deeper than casualty lists and costs to rebuild infrastructure. Irreplaceable historical structures and artefacts, generational knowledge and cultural identity are often lost also.
In The Doctor of Aleppo Dan Mayland offers readers a compelling action thriller and modern-history lesson with gravitas.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Get your copy of The Doctor of Aleppo from:
Genre: Action-Adventure, Drama, Thriller, Historical
More The Doctor of Aleppo Reviews
“Heroic and Heartbreaking.” -Booklist
“Mayland not only portrays the collapse of Aleppo with authority, he depicts the human struggles for life and dignity with a deftness that will wreck the reader’s heart.” -David L. Robbins, New York Times bestselling author of War of the Rats
“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 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
and be sure to check out the other book review sites participating in this TLC Book Tour.
If you like the sound of The Doctor of Aleppo you may also enjoy:
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra / That Devil’s Madness by Dominique Wilson / The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht / To The Lions by Holly Watt / People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
About the Author, Dan Mayland
Dan Mayland is an author and professional geopolitical forecaster, helping nonprofit, private, and government organizations navigate a changing world. His Mark Sava spy series was informed by his experiences in the Caspian region and Middle East. Raised in New Jersey, Mayland now lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two children, in an old stone farmhouse he and his wife have restored.
* My receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.
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