3. Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East, by Patrick Seale
If you want to understand contemporary Syrian politics, read Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East, British journalist Patrick Seale's book about former Syrian president Hafiz al-Asad. Ruling for more than two decades, Asad laid the foundation for modern Syrian politics, government, and ideology. With personal access to Asad himself, Seale has written a biography that is both admiring and yet also critical of one of Syria's most influential political leaders.