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The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iranby Hooman Majd
Synopses & Reviews
Three young Americans captured by Iranian forces and held in captivity for two years tell their story.
In summer 2009, Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan when they unknowingly crossed into Iran and were captured by a border patrol. Accused of espionage, the three Americans ultimately found themselves in Tehrans infamous Evin Prison, where they discovered that pooling their strength of will and relying on each other were the only ways they could survive.
In this poignant memoir, “the hikers” finally tell their side of the story. They recount the deception that lured them into Iran in the first place and describe the psychological torment of interrogation and solitary confinement. We follow them as they make surprising alliances with their fellow prisoners and even some of their captors, while their own bonds with each other are tested and deepened. Told through a bold and innovative interweaving of the authors three voices, here is a rare glimpse inside Iran and a timeless portrayal of hardship and hope.
"In this critical but affectionate portrait of Iranian politics and culture, Majd, the Western-educated grandson of an ayatollah, delves into the very core of Iranian society, closely examining social mores and Farsi phrases to identify the Persian sensibility, which, Majd determines, cherishes privacy, praise and poetry. Nothing is too small or too sweeping for Majd to consider, and although he announces his allegiance to the former president Khatami, he remains scrupulously even-handed in assessing his successor Ahmadinejad, shedding light on the Iranian president's 'obsession' with the Holocaust and penchant for windbreakers and why the two are (surprisingly) intertwined. The author's brisk, conversational prose is appealing; his book reads as if he is chatting with a smart friend, while strolling around Tehran, engaged in ta'arouf (an exaggerated form of self-deprecation key to understanding Persian society). Although Majd seems to gloss too quickly over realities that don't engage his interest — women's voices are only intermittently included — this failing scarcely mars this remarkable ride through what is often uncharted territory." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This stylish, witty, and enlightening portrait of contemporary Iran brilliantly captures the often misunderstood character of the people and their complex, paradoxical, and changing nation. Two 8-page color photo inserts.
Three Americans captured by Iranian forces and held in captivity for years reveal, for the first time, the full story of their imprisonment and fight for freedom.
About the Author
HOOMAN MAJD was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1957, and educated in the West. He has written about Iran for GQ, the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New York Observer, and was executive vice president at Island Records and head of film and music at Palm Pictures. A contributing editor at Interview magazine, he lives in New York City.
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» History and Social Science » Middle East » Iran and Persia