By Will Barber – Taylor
“Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in” – The Doctor’s Promise
“Assad or we burn the country” – The Eye Doctor’s Promise
The Doctor, the lead character in the BBC’s phenomenally successful TV show “Doctor Who”; a time-traveling alien is hundreds of years old. He is a compassionate person with the curiosity of a child and the wisdom of the ages. The Eye Doctor, Bashar Assad of Syria, whose ophthalmology studies in the UK were interrupted to enable him to inherit the presidency of a country from his father. “The Doctor, the Eye Doctor and Me” is the world of Doctor Who and the Syrian conflict as seen through the eyes of Aboud Dandachi, an activist and refugee from the city of Homs. The book attempts to explain the events of the Syrian conflict by exploring the remarkable analogies, parallels and contrasts between the war and the adventures of the Eleventh Doctor.
When I first came across this book I was a bit confused. Doctor Who and the conflict in Syria? How on earth could these two seemingly unconnected things be connected? Well though I was a tad confused and slightly wary I decided to get the book for free on my Kindle. Lo and behold it turns out the book is a work of genius. Aboud Dandachi has managed something that would on the face of it seem impossible. He has created a way for non-political fans of Doctor Who to understand and grasp the full weight and horror of the Syrian conflict by drawing quite obvious, in some ways, parallels between the two things.
I already knew quite a bit about the conflict, being a bit of a political bod but Dandachi’s book is much better than anything you can see on the news. Having actually been in Syria when the conflict started and having stayed for a good while after means that he can give a fascinating insight into some of the horrible things that happened in his home country. From the point of view of it being a first-hand account of the conflict, it is an incredible piece on its own. But when coupled with the Doctor Who elements it becomes even better.
Dandachi manages to show what it is like for a fan of Doctor Who in a country being ripped apart by war. It is strange that this isn’t something that has ever really been touched upon before. Obviously there will be people out in Syria, Gaza and other such war torn areas who like shows like Doctor Who but you never really hear of this sort of thing. We, in the west, find it easy to be able to talk about a show that we love and get merchandise and other things but in deprived countries like Syria this isn’t the case. It may be a slightly strange angle to take when you think about the humanitarian loss in such situations but it is enlightening in some ways. It is also a good thing because it may be a gateway for people who aren’t aware what is happening in Syria to find out the horror of what is occurring.
Dandachi’s book mixes reviews and observations about Syria together in a great way. He always manages to link the two together in a fascinating manner that means that you get to hear his views on both subjects equally without going too much into one or the other.
The Doctor, The Eye Doctor and Me is a fascinating book which looks very closely about both the Assad regime and Matt Smith’s time as The Doctor. It manages to draw surprising conclusions between the two but never leaves the reader feeling bemused or too depressed to go on. It is a fascinating read which I would highly recommend.