It was the spring of 2011 when Alia Malek told her younger sister Rana the news: She was moving to Damascus. The Syrian uprising had just begun. People would be fleeing en masse. Yet Malek — a journalist, author and lawyer — would be flying in.
The prospect was worrisome. What if Malek was killed by a bomb? Or kidnapped, and held for ransom? The U.S. wasn't paying ransoms.
But Malek, now 42, had made up her mind.
"I wanted to be there to witness it," she said. And to write about it. Having spent her life on the margins of American life, she firmly believed that the people experiencing an event needed to be the ones writing about it.
For her new memoir,...