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The Struggle for Iranby Christ De Bellaigue
Synopses & Reviews
Since the late 1990s, Christopher de Bellaigue has been reporting from Iran for The New York Review and other magazines. This collection of his essays and reviews traces the country's political upheavals during that period, from the failures of the reformist efforts led by former President Muhammad Khatami to the hard-line Islamist ideology of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and profiles the ongoing role of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Bellaigue pays particular attention to the motivations behind Iran's nuclear program and evaluates the likelihood of efforts by the West to halt it before the Iranians can build a nuclear weapon. But beyond the political maneuvering, he investigates the prospects for liberalization and even democratization as a nation composed heavily of young people confronts the restrictions of Islamic rule, and is caught between the lure of the West and its attachment to a culture very much its own. <BR>Though the focus of the book is primarily on politics, Bellaigue also deals with questions of the arts and society as well. He managed to join a private study group dedicated to the thirteenth-century mystical poet Rumi, and to gain insights on why the poet still matters so much to Iranians. And he writes both of the art of ancient Persia and of the paradoxes of an exhibition of modern art in Tehran, which displayed the large collection assembled by the Empress Farah Diba before the revolution, still owned by the state but unlikely to be seen again in public under the Islamic regime. Bellaigue's acute insights into today's Iran and the international dealings with it are an essential guide to a country that will present the most pressing problemsfor US foreign policy in the near future. <BR>Table of Contents: <BR>1. Introduction<BR>2. The Struggle for Iran<BR>3. Who Rules Iran?<BR>4. The Loneliness of the Supreme Leader<BR>5. Big Deal in Iran<BR>6. Stalled in Iran<BR>7. Bush, Iran, and the Bomb<BR>8. New Man in Iran<
Book News Annotation:
Journalist de Bellaigue first visited Iran in 1999, a trip that resulted in his writing about the then vibrant democratic reform movement in the title essay of this collection. Having taken up residence in the capital city of Tehran, he continued publishing his observations about Iranian political and social life in The New York Review of Books and elsewhere for the next seven years. This volume collects 15 of those essays providing a window into Iranian life for an American audience. He addresses the ups and downs of the reform movement, the politics of nuclear energy, and issues of cultural censorship and Persian nationalism, seeking to dispel the Manichean picture of Iran frequently described by neoconservatives and others anxious for Iranian "regime change." Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Who rules Iran, and how secure is their grip on a young and restless society? How should the world respond to allegations that the Islamic Republic is building nuclear weapons and supporting terrorists?
Christopher de Bellaigue traces Iran’ s political upheavals since the early 1990s, from the failures of the reformist efforts led by former President Mohammad Khatami to the election of the hard-line Islamist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as the ongoing role of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Bellaigue pays particular attention to the motivations behind Iran’ s nuclear program, the likelihood that the West will succeed in halting it, and how Iranians might respond to a US military strike. He also portrays the complexities of Iranian society and the prospects for liberalization and democratization as a nation composed predominantly of young people confronts the restrictions of Islamic rule and the lure of the West.
Beyond the headlines, Bellaigue explores Iran’ s art and literature. He learns why the thirteenth-century mystical poet Rumi still matters so much to Iranians. And he writes of both the art of ancient Persia and the paradoxes of an exhibition of modern art in Tehran.
Bellaigue’ s shrewd political analysis and insightful reporting are an essential guide to a nation that is certain to be in the headlines for some time to come.
Table of Contents:
2. The Struggle for Iran
3. Who Rules Iran?
4. The Loneliness of the Supreme Leader
5. Big Deal in Iran
6. Stalled in Iran
7. Bush, Iran, and the Bomb
8. New Man in Iran
9. Lifting the Veil (on modern art in Tehran)
10. The PersianDifference (on ancient Persian art)
11. Studying Rumi
12. Iran and the Bomb
13. Waiting for War in Tehran
14. New Essay TK
When Christopher de Bellaigue first visited Iran in 1999, he found it irresistably alive: under the leadership of President Mohammad Khatami, Islamic revolutionary rule was loosening and the prospects for democratic pluralism seemed bright. But over the remaining six years of Khatami's presidency, de Bellaigue watched as the conservative religious establishment reasserted its power and the hopes of reform slowly died. The country seemed to turn its back on all that Khatami stood for when it elected an unsophisticated Islamist ideologue, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to succeed him in 2005.
As the optimism of the reform movement was fading, international tensions over Iran's nuclear program were rising. George W. Bush included Iran in the "axis of evil," depicting it as a malign theocracy determined to acquire nuclear weapons and threaten Israel. Yet de Bellaigue's accounts of the nuclear negotiations make clear that the West's opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions has helped both to empower those who oppose democratic reform and perhaps even to convince Iran it needs nuclear weapons for self-defense.
Beyond the high political drama, de Bellaigue, a long-term resident of Tehran and a fluent Persian speaker, gives a sense of the complexities of Iranian culture and society through striking portraits of Iranians going about their daily lives—reading the poetry of Rumi, looking at modern art, making films under the threat of censorship, trying to get by despite domestic turmoil and military threats. His keen analyses of Iran's politics and its people offer fascinating insights into a often misunderstood nation that poses some of the most challenging problems facing the world today.
About the Author
Christopher de Bellaigue was born in London in 1971 and has worked as a journalist in the Middle East and South Asia since 1994. His first book, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literatures Ondaatje Prize. He lives in Tehran with his wife and two children.
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History and Social Science » Middle East » Iran and Persia