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Hardcover The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran Book

ISBN: 0385523343

ISBN13: 9780385523349

The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

A revealing look at Iran by an American journalist with an insider's access behind Persian walls The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, now an American citizen, Hooman Majd is, in a way, both 100 percent Iranian and 100 percent American, combining an insider's knowledge of how Iran works with a remarkable ability to explain its history and its quirks to Western readers. In The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, he paints a...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A must read book

Exquisitely written, this book introduces the reader to the complexities of Iranian society. It is without limits for not only does it explain the political thinking behind the decision making in Iran, but it helps understand the cultural aspects of Iranian society. For someone who was born there and lived a great deal of her life in that country, I found myself eagerly turning the pages of this book and learning a great deal as I went along.

Excellent and affectionate analysis of modern Iran

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was really taken with the humorous aspects of it. All the propaganda we get in the US about Iran is that it's filled with murderous ayatollahs and their underlings, when in fact it's full of ordinary people who are trying to live their lives (well, there are some murderous types there, too). I really appreciated the author's efforts to get the reader to understand the underlying religious and secular strains in modern Iran and how they affect everyone in the country. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand Iran today. It could help prevent another disasterous war in the region.

You Are There

Not a book for the cherishers of preconceived notions, or the gaggle of aggrieved partisans who live in nostalgic reveries of the despicable Shah, Majd knows what's happening, makes his biases clear -- he is both a capital D American Democrat and an Iranian supporter of the reformist Khatami -- and happens to be a damn fine reporter. He gives the reader a tangible sense of why Iran is as it is, why the Iranians prefer to work with their imperfect Islamic Republic than seek a revolution to replace it, and how the nation's history, religion, food, poetry, and taxi drivers helped it become what it is. It's concrete and mystical, funny and beautiful, and constantly surprising -- I mean both this fantastically readable book and the country it describes. Oh yes, and it will also tell you exactly what's really going on with that crazy president of theirs and the nuclear enrichment business.

Beyond Ideas of Wrongdoing and Rightdoing

In the preface, writer Hooman Majd is described in oxymoron as the only person in the life of this particular friend as 100 percent American and 100 percent Iranian. In quoting a Sufi poet Sanai, Majd notes: "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,/there is a field. I'll meet you there." This is precisely what he does. This is not a book that attempts to justify the atrocities of any government, but is rather an examination of a country, its views, and how it got there. Though ideologically the Islamic Republic is to have done away with class-- just as Democracy is to have ideally done away with the constrains of the same-- Hooman Majd explores the complex psyche of modern Iran, at once Muslim, Shiite and Persian, all of which Majd defines with great detail, historic significance, personal reference, wit and depth in understanding. While taking us through South Tehran, once the city's roughest neighborhood known as "Texas," onto the government's utilitarian style compound in downtown Tehran, to the privileged homes of former royalists, ambassadors, and artists in North Tehran, to Qom, the desert town and home of Ayatollahs and Shia learning. In introducing us to the complicated personalities in these homes and offices, showing us how and why they got to their particular points of political views and lifestyles, we get an empathetic analysis-- and I stress empathetic as opposed to sympathetic-- in what it means to be Iranian today, and in this climate of what appears to be world tumult, crisis, and confusion. There is a calm centeredness to THE AYATOLLAH BEGS TO DIFFER, which is the manner in which I like to receive information on any highly controversial, timely and topical subject, as opposed to the kind of shrill analyses we find in abundance. I highly recommend Hooman Majd's book for readers who prefer their political and cultural literature written with a masterful sense of balance and wisdom, rather than justification, finger-pointing, and reactionary doctrine.
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