From Publishers Weekly
This portrait of the Islamist revolution's heartland is far from the "axis of evil" caricature so often associated with the regime that held Americans hostage in 1979–1980 and is actively pursuing nuclear arms today. Rather, Ballaigue, who covers Iran for the Economist
, presents a textured view of a complex society, struggling with an ancient culture, a radical ideology and a Westernized elite. Drawing inspiration from George Orwell, who chronicled the Catalonian revolution of the 1930s and its betrayal by Stalinists, Ballaiguecharts the Islamist revolution from its origins in the repressive regime of the Shah and the fiery sermons of the Ayatollah Khomeini, through its triumph and the taking of the hostages of the "Great Satan," the war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the Iran-Contra scandal and the waning of the Islamist revolutionary fervor as educated Iranians became disillusioned with the mullahs and thirsted for greater cultural and intellectual freedom. The book is peppered with interviews with and vignettes of the many Iranians the author has met during his years in Iran; the title refers to a cemetery in Tehran where the martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war are interred—"rose garden" being an ironic rendition of rows of headstones. (On sale Jan. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
If Pollack's Persian Puzzle
[BKL D 1 04] is the policy wonk's view of today's Iran, British journalist de Bellaigue's memoir is closer to the ground. Outsiders might see Iran as an emerging nuclear threat, but de Bellaigue also sees a country terribly spent from decades of autocratic rule, revolution, ultrafundamentalism, a ruinous war with Iraq, the Iran-Contra scandal, and ongoing hostilities with America. The author, who lives in Iran and writes for the New York Review of Books
and the economist
, discusses these issues at length, but he also guides us through city streets and into the lives of Iranian citizens. There is Mr. Zarif, who agitated for the Ayatollah's return to Iran and now wonders why his Iranian-manufactured Paykan car is so poorly built. And the war veteran Amini, whose forehead carries 60 pieces of shrapnel and who has resigned himself to letting Esfahan teens dance in public. Readers will find here a detailed picture of Iranian life that has too long been out of reach. Alan MooresCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved