Anthony Sattin in The Guardian:
Early 2014 wasn’t so long ago, but it is increasingly difficult to remember a time when the name Isis was not in daily use. Barely a day goes by now without mention of its strategic brilliance or imagination-defying brutality. Yet Daesh, as the terror organisation is commonly known in the Arab world, has only existed for a year under that name. In that time, it has become the poster boy of Islamist terror and the subject of a growing collection of books that includes Abdel Bari Atwan’s Islamic State, Benjamin Hall’s Inside Isis and Patrick Cockburn’s The Rise of Islamic State. Cockburn has also contributed a foreword to Charles Glass’s new book, Syria Burning.
One of the problems of writing about the current situation in the Middle East, as Glass, a veteran journalist, knows only too well, is that today’s certainties are tomorrow’s laughable speculations. Iran may still refer to the US as the “Great Satan”, but the two states now share some strategic interests. Although the US used to insist that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must step down, it is now considering the very real possibility that he could survive the war and, like America’s lamentable “red line” of chemical weapons, what was unthinkable recently could soon be the acceptable status quo. But if news moves fast, assessments have not, which is one reason why we should all read Syria Burning.