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W&N Current Affairs HB / ETPB May £18.99 / £12.99 320pp 978 1 4746 0590 8 / 978 1 4746 0591 5 eBook: £18.99 / 978 1 4746 0593 9 Audio: £19.99 / 978 1 4091 7146 1 / 10 hrs

Mike Thomson’s BBC Radio documentary about Syria’s secret library won the One World Media Award for Radio Story of the Year 2017.

MIKE THOMSON Syria’s Secret Library

The extraordinary story of how the besieged syrian town of Darayya found hope and inspiration in a secret underground library.

Down in the basement of a bombed building in a heavily shelled area of Darayya there is a secret library. No signs mark its presence, because in a war zone, books are dangerous.

It is a haven of peace and tranquillity. More than 14,000 books are stacked neatly on home-made shelves, arranged according to author and subject. They are checked in and out meticulously. Those within read quietly, drinking tea on comfortable sofas and chairs. A small oasis of normality in a country at war with itself.

Darayya’s secret library is an extraordinary place, but this book is about more than that. It is about the people for whom the library is a symbol of hope. It is about the determination of ordinary people to have a meaningful existence and to rebuild their fractured society.

Mike Thomson is a multi-award winning World Affairs correspondent for the BBC. Over the last decade, his work has taken him to many of the world’s most troubled places. He has won a string of awards for his journalism, and is the only journalist to have attained four Amnesty Awards in his career.

W&N Non-Fiction • May 2018

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Lives in: Finchley, London T: @ThomsonRadio