Synopses & Reviews
Fusing travelogue, historical inquiry, and interviews with Iranians from all walks of life, Neither East Nor West
is a landmark contribution to travel writing and to cultural studies, as well as a timely illumination of a nation deeply misunderstood by most Westerners. In describing life in Iran today, Christiane Bird, an American who spent part of her childhood there, breaks the silence that has surrounded Iran's culture -- unlike its politics -- for nearly twenty years.
Traveling alone and largely by bus, Bird journeys from the modern, bustling capital of Tehran to the medieval holy city of Qom, from the sacred pilgrimage site of Mashhad -- visited by more than twelve million Shi'ites annually -- to the isolated valley of Alamut, once home to the legendary cult of the Assassins. She visits mosques, public baths, Khomeini's former home, and a Caspian Sea resort, and attends prayer meetings and a horse racing meet. Along the way, she talks to muleteers and ayatollahs, Kurds and Turkomans, Westernized and traditional Iranians -- many of whom invite her home for a cup of tea.
The result is an astounding, insightful journey into the Islamic Republic of Iran -- in all its beauty, ferocity, and contradiction.
This text is a fusion of travelogue, historical inquiry, portraits of people and interviews with Iranians from all walks of life, which produces an insightful look at a complex nation that has long been obscured by unfortunate stereotypes and misunderstandings.
About the Author
Christiane Bird is the author of The Jazz and Blues Lover's Guide to the U.S. and New York Handbook, and a co-author of Below the Line: Living Poor in America. A graduate of Yale University and a former travel writer for the New York Daily News, she lives in New York City.