2017, Cune Press, 978-1-61457-145-2, $19.95 pb.
Given the damage done to Aleppo in recent years, writing a book to celebrate the city might be considered a grim undertaking. But Khaldoun Fansa—Aleppo native, architectural preservationist and fierce urban defender—knows just how to begin. His book is pitched to children, the generation charged with the city’s long-term repair. Written as a conversation between a boy and his father, who—like the author—knows the city from top to bottom, the book follows them as they visit the city’s landmark Citadel, the suqs, a walled city gate, the 15th-century adjacent neighborhood of al-Jdayde (the diminutive form of “new”) and the interior of a traditional house. The book’s sidebars on architectural history, its old and new site photos, and city maps and plans add value for adult readers. Fansa’s final words might serve as a defiant epigraph: “Before the identity is lost, before the insight is blurred, and despite the multiple afflictions today, this City, built with stone, remains.”