This study examines the development of the Syrian state as it has emerged under thirty-five years of military-Ba'thist rule and, particularly, under President Hafiz al-Asad. It analyses the way in which the fragility of the post-independence state, unable to contain rising nationalist struggle and class conflict, opened the way to the Ba'th party's rise to power and examines how the Ba'th's 'revolution from above' transformed Syria's socio-political terrain. The mixed strategy of power concentration under Asad is then examined and the way in which the creation of a presidential monarchy buttressed by trusted kin and clients commanding instruments of repression was combined with the creation of Lenninst-like political organization incorporating a rural constinuency. Subsequent state-society relations, including the rise of a new class, Islamic rebellion, the survival of civil society and Asad's resort to political decompression as a substitute for democratisation are then surveyed. The author moves on to assess the political economy of economic development, showing how agrarian reform, industrialization and economic liberalization created a more equitable and diverse but fundamentally flawed state-dominated economy. The final chapter examines how Asad's foreign policy has turned Syria from a victim to an actor in the regional struggle for power.