The Damascus Events Book Launch

Book copies will be on sale at the discounted price of £20 - cash only please | Drinks reception will follow the book signing

Access to Investcorp Lecture Theatre is through St Antony’s College main entrance at 62 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6JF

The Damascus Events: the 1860 Massacre and the Destruction of the Old Ottoman World, By Eugene Rogan, Published in hardback by Allen Lane, 2 May 2024.

A watershed moment in the history and the making of the modern Middle East. Renowned Arab scholar, Eugene Rogan brilliantly recreates the lost world of the Middle East under Ottoman rule at a formative juncture that was to reshape the future of the region to the present day. The old Empire was under pressure from global economic change and European imperial expansion and tensions were raised – nowhere more so than in Damascus. LInked by caravan trade to Baghdad, the Mediterranean and Mecca, Damascus was a warily tolerant place until local diplomatic and trade reforms consistently favoured Christians over Arab Muslims, who came to see their Christian neighbours as an existential threat, such that the extermination of the Syrian Christians seemed like a reasonable solution.

The unprecedented violence that followed shocked the world, claiming more than 10k Christians in Mount Lebanon and 5k in Damascus. For Syria, Lebanon and the Arab states it remains a defining moment.

It would take a generation for the Ottoman government to rebuild the city and restore peace between the Muslims and Christians of Damascus, introducing far reaching administrative and financial reforms which would return stability not only to the Syrian capital but also shape the future of the newly emerging countries of the modern Middle East. That peace in Damascus would last 150 years, until the outbreak of civil war in 2011.

Eugene Rogan has been mulling over the pivotal importance of this massacre all his professional life. Drawing on the never-before-seen first hand reports of Dr Mishaqa, the Christian vice-Consul to the US, and other notable scholars of the time, he answers key questions: why did the Muslim of Damascus massacre the Christians of their city? and How did the Ottoman authorities bring the city back from that brink? He brings essential new material to the history of the moment, while building the most comprehensive survey to date of eye witness accounts from both the Christian and Muslim perspectives.

The Damascus Events offers a superb history of a moment of deeply divisive trauma that unmade a great city and examines the possibility, even after conflict and tragedy, of renewal.

Eugene Rogan backstory: Born in California in 1960, Eugene Rogan grew up in Paris and Rome before moving with his family to Lebanon in 1971. He and his family were forced to leave Lebanon for Egypt following the outbreak of the 1975 civil war, and he learned Arabic while a high school student in Cairo. He went twice to Jordan as a graduate student at Harvard to study Arabic and pursue his doctoral research examining Ottoman rule in the Empire’s frontier regions. Eugene Rogan is the author of the bestselling The Arabs: A History (2009) and The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920 (2015). He is professor of modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Oxford and Director of the Middle East Centre, St Antony’s College, Oxford.