The story begins in 2007 when Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus to report on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There she meets and hires Ahlam, a refugee working as a "fixer" - providing Western media with trustworthy information and contacts. Ahlam has fled her home in Iraq after being kidnapped while running a humanitarian center. Strong and charismatic, she has become an unofficial leader of the refugee community in Damascus, supporting her husband and two children through her work with foreign journalists, and working to set up a makeshift school for displaced girls.
Campbell is inspired by Ahlam's determination to create something good amid so much suffering, and the two women become close friends. But one morning Ahlam is seized from her home in front of Campbell's eyes. Haunted by the prospect that their work together has led to her friend's arrest, Campbell spends the months that follow trying to find her - all the while fearing she could be next.
The compelling story of two women caught up in the shadowy politics behind today's most searing conflict, A Disappearance in Damascus reminds us of the courage of those who risk their lives to bring us the world's news.
DEBORAH CAMPBELL is an award-winning writer who has reported from many countries around the world, including Iran, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Mexico, Cuba and Russia. Her work, much of which involves spending long periods of time in the societies she covers, has appeared in Harper's, The Economist, The Guardian, New Scientist, and Foreign Policy, and she is the recipient of three National Magazine Awards for her foreign correspondence. A Disappearance in Damascus won the 2016 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Non-Fiction. Campbell has guest lectured at Harvard, Berkeley, Zayed University in Dubai, and the National Press Club in Washington. She teaches at the University of British Columbia.