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In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iranby Christopher De Bellaigue
Synopses & Reviews
Beside the highway that leads south from Tehran, the necropolis of Ayatollah Rudollah Khomeini rises from the sweating tarmac like a miraculous filling station supplying fuel for the soul. However, the paint is peeling even before the complex has been completed, and the prayer halls are all but deserted.
Iran's Islamic Revolution is out of gas, but what has happened to the hostage takers, suicidal holy warriors, and ideologues who brought it about? These men and women kicked out the Shah, spent eight years fighting Saddam's Iraq, and terrified the West with its militancy and courage. Now they are a worn-out generation.
In this superbly crafted and thoughtful book, Christopher de Bellaigue gives us the voices and memories of these wistful revolutionaries. Mullahs and academics, artists, traders, and mystics: the author knows them as an insider — a journalist who speaks fluent Persian and is married to an Iranian — and also as an outsider — a Westerner isolated in one of the world's most enigmatic and impenetrable societies.
The result is a subtly intense revelation of the hearts and minds of the Iranian people — and what it is to live among them.
The history of Iran in the late twentieth century is a chronicle of religious fervor and violent change — from the Islamic Revolution that ousted the Shah in favor of a rigid fundamentalist government to the bloody eight-year war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. But what happened to the hostage-takers, the suicidal holy warriors, the martyrs, and the mullahs responsible for the now moribund revolution? Is modern Iran a society at peace with itself and the world, or truly a dangerous spoke in the "Axis of Evil"?
Christopher de Bellaigue, a Western journalist married to an Iranian woman and a longtime resident of a prosperous suburb of Tehran, offers a stunning insider's view of a culture hitherto hidden from American eyes, and reveals the true hearts and minds of an extraordinary people.
About the Author
Christopher de Bellaigue was born in London and now lives in Tehran with his family. He has spent the past decade working as a journalist in the Middle East and South Asia, and his work appears in The Economist, the New York Review of Books, Granta, and The New Yorker.
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