AKs and Lollipops – The Verdict So Far

Five months on from its publication, it is time to revisit AKs and Lollipops.

It has been 161 days since the publication of AKs and Lollipops: Inside the Syrian Conflict and as far as I am aware, things are going well. Newspapers and TV channels aren’t harassing me over the phone and I am yet to be stopped in the street, but sales were never going to be huge. Passing the triple figures mark in terms of books sold is a milestone that I am happy to reach.

I would be dishonest if I were to say that book sales didn’t concern me because selfishly it would give me pride to know that I have published something that can be deemed even a minor success. More importantly though, and on a less selfish note, the more books that are the sold, the more money will go to charity. And that is what motivates me to plug my book when I can.

Think of buying a copy as a donation to charity whereby you get a free book for your troubles.

I have spotted a few grammatical errors reading it back, and there are certain passages which I am now unhappy with, but that is always going to be the case I imagine. Hindsight is both a gift and a curse. Already I am deliberating over my next major project. Ideas are becoming plans and thoughts are turning to passion. Watch this space.

In the meantime, here is what some people have had to say about AKs and Lollipops.

I would love to hear your feedback also.

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“Amazing and accessible read”
– Isabelle Hodge

“Most of the time both the corporate news media and many politicos like to paint the world in simple black and white, pigeon holing actors into good and bad, right and wrong, us and them. It is unusual for insights to show the complexity of actual situations on the ground. Paddy Vipond’s AKs and Lollopops runs against this tendency and does so very well indeed. It really is an excellent account of and witness to the conflict in Syria, refusing to simplify it as an imperialist-anti-imperialist crusade or a battle of good vs evil. It’s an eye opener, vividly written, humane and passionate. I very much recommend to anyone seeking to get a better understanding of Syria, as I did.”
– Dr Lee Salter

“A roller-coaster ride of emotion both from the view of the author and the people he meets.
– Ben McBride

“I just wanted you to know that since purchasing your AKs and Lollipops, I haven’t put it down. As someone looking to increase their (somewhat limited) understanding of the conflict and look beyond the city of Brighton and beyond my own life, it’s a hugely inspiring, humbling and heartbreaking account that so far has left me completely distracted with ideas on how I can help in some way… Many thanks for writing it.”
– Hayley Reader

“A gripping and insightful, first hand account of the lives affected by the Syrian conflict.
It re-humanises the people of Syria from being simple statistics, whilst providing a narrative of the politics determining their fate.
Definitely worth a read and difficult to put down!”
– David Redfern

“To me this book falls squarely into the frame of gonzo journalism. The book is as much about the narrator and author, Paddy Vipond, as it is about the world he enters – which is lucky, as he’s highly loveable. Essentially Vipond takes the opportunity to visit Syria in early 2012 whilst working in neighbouring Turkey, he beautifully illustrates his journey and fleshes out those he meets along the way. Shocked by what he sees, and asking a lot of his own place within the world, Vipond enters on a project to help at least some of those whom he has seen suffer. In turn, he asks the reader to take a closer look at the war, and recognise it as a struggle taking place far closer to home than we may first think.
Where the book feels strongest is where the stories are braided together: the audience is pulling from a central narrative of a journey into Syria off to touching, poignant and often humorous moments in Vipond’s life. He reveals himself to be a humble, thoughtful and modest man who would rather reveal his own flaws than tempt to paint a false picture of himself.
Where I feel the piece falls short is in the historical context. Without a better knowledge of the situation I sometimes found it hard to understand the conflict, I felt the narrative would have been strengthened with more-detailed maps, a time-line and a stronger referencing to individual dates. In a conflict that is so regularly evolving it may date the piece, but would certainly aid the reader, I hope it will appear in a later edition.
If you’re looking for a narrative concerning the historical origins of the Syrian Civil War, this isn’t it. What Vipond has created here is an almost unique odyssey into a world where no one else has dared to tread. Fantastic stuff.”
– Conrad Molden

“Great insight into the Syrian conflict – Informative and inspiring. Well worth a read!”
– Tristan Williams

“I liked your book because it showed someone from a STW activist background thinking through the issues of the Syrian Revolution… That’s basically my review, with added comments on your bravery/stupidity of going to a WARZONE and your highly commendable solidarity work.”
– Mark Boothroyd

“I downloaded your book last night and haven’t been able to put it down… I was welling up half 7 this morning reading about it. The problems they face really put life in to perspective. Well done on the book by the way, it’s a pleasure to read, a real eye opener that I will definitely be recommending! “
– Danielle Arran

“AKs and Lollipops is the first-hand account of a young British volunteer as he makes an impromptu trip to Syria, armed only with a notepad, a cheap digital camera and a vague desire to help out.
Regarding Syria, it’s easy to become both desensitised and confused by the images, figures and facts coming out of the conflict via the mainstream media. However, it’s anecdotal human stories like these that really emphasise how desperate and dangerous the lives of innocent people in Syria have become. Vipond’s intrepidness and moral grace throughout this short book gives the reader a powerful, poignant reminder of how privileged we really are in the West, and how we should all be doing what we can the less fortunate.
This isn’t what you’d call conflict journalism, nor is it exactly travel writing, but it lies harmoniously in between. While not flawless, the prose is very engaging, and overall this is a bold and hard-hitting first novel from a promising young writer. Absolutely worth a read.”
– Chris McSweeney

“An excellent and insightful book”
– Callum Winter

“I finished your book last week and as I wasn’t able to leave a review I wanted to just say that it was a good read. I enjoyed reading about your personal experiences and it was thought provoking and informative. If only more people took an active interest in current affairs and practiced compassion outside of their own bubbles.”
– Emma Ball

“This little book is written with honesty and passion by a young man who took it upon himself to enter into a war zone to help the many displaced refugees caught up in Syria’s troubles. It is written with a refreshingly real account of the horrors of war. Paddy reminds us that Syrias war is still waging in a brutal land of Assad’s steel regime. We don’t have to be mere bystanders, like Paddy we too can do much to help. This little but powerful book remains with us long after we have read the last few words.”
– Martine Vipond (My Mum)

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