The Soul of Iran: A Nation's Struggle for Freedom (Paperback)

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My Dad has a Mediterranean complexion, with olive-colored skin and black hair. When my Mom introduced him to her family for the first time, during the Iranian hostage crisis, her brother yelled out, “Dad, Karen brought home an Iranian!!!” Thus started my love of Iran.

History books like these are especially fun to read because the author travels to various places across the country, and both describes his experience visiting these places and their historic importance. It allows the reader to get a taste of Iran through the author’s eyes. Afshin Molavi is incredibly talented as he effortlessly combines both currents and past events with stunning first-person testimonies that ranges from taxi-drivers and college students to government officials and religious leaders. This provides a more complete picture of Iran as you learn about various peoples’ lives and views on the 1979 Revolution.

One of the sections I found fascinating was the part describing the relationship between the bazaars and the mosque. I have been to both bazaars and mosques in Egypt and Turkey and could not imagine more polarizing places. Mosques are quiet slow-moving places of reflection and prayer, while bazaars are fast-paced, full of energy, as vendors and customers haggle of prices at an increasingly louder volume.

But Molavi describes that both bazaaris and clerics come from the same middle-class and often intermarry. The bazaar provides the mosque with revenue from religious taxes, while the mosque provides the bazaar with salvation. One vendor jokingly explained, “When you spend your days cheating your neighbor out of ten tomans, it makes you feel better to give one of those tomans to the mosque.”

Iran is not all that it seems from the cover, I would absolutely recommend reading this book in order to destroy your assumptions and learn to see this magnificent country in a new light.

— From Cultures


The truths about Iran; quite different truths from versions put forward by Washington, Tehran, and the media.

Iran thundered onto the world stage in 1979 with an Islamic revolution that shook the world. Today that revolution has gone astray, a popular democracy movement boldly challenges authority, and young Iranians are more interested in moving to America than in chanting "Death to America." Afshin Molavi, born in Iran and fluent in Persian, traveled widely across his homeland, exploring the legacy of the Iranian revolution and probing the soul of Iran, a land with nearly three millennia of often-glorious history. Like a master Persian carpet maker, Molavi weaves together threads of rich historical insight, political analysis, cultural observation, and the daily realities of life in the Islamic republic to produce a colorful, intricate, and mesmerizing narrative. Originally published in hardcover under the title Persian Pilgrimages, this paperback edition is revised, with a new introduction and epilogue.

About the Author

Afshin Molavi has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, has reported on Iran for Reuters and the Washington Post, and contributes to many publications, including Foreign Affairs. He lives in Washington, DC.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393325973
ISBN-10: 0393325970
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: September 17th, 2005
Pages: 392
Language: English