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Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran Hardcover – October 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (October 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393051196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393051193
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,586,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Molavi begins the chronicle of his year-long journey through a land in perpetual turmoil by saying, "This is a book about Iran and Iranians." In the midst of America's war on terrorism and as America is faced with the very real possibility of a second war with Iraq, this is a timely read. Reflective and at times deeply personal, Molavi, who was born in Iran and now lives in Washington, D.C., poignantly reveals Iran and its history through the voices of the people he interviewed, including merchants, students, feminists, traditionalists, children and revolutionaries, as they speak on such subjects as poetry, campus politics, personal appearance, democracy, religion, war and the West. In addition to his descriptions of landmarks and monuments, Molavi makes comparisons to other writings on Iran. He takes readers much further beyond the scope of magazine and newspaper articles, leading them through his own discovery of his homeland. In the end, he leaves Iran a conflicted man, weighed down by his new knowledge of the people and himself. "Surely, it would not be the last time I visited Iran, but somehow, I felt melancholy.... Had I seen everything I needed to see? Had I talked to enough people? What was this sense of loss I felt?" Not only a portrait of a country and people, this is also a personal journey into a man's past and his future.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Iranian American journalist Molavi spent approximately one year (1999-2000) living in Teheran and exploring the country that his family had left more than 20 years before. As he traveled the well-known cities (Isfahan, Tabriz, Khoramshahr) two decades after the revolution, he simultaneously explored the rich historical and cultural past of his roots. Molavi discovers two schisms in the popular consciousness, the first between the pre-Islamic Persian Empire dating from 500 B.C.E. and the current Islamic Iran, the second between a genuine devotion to Islam in the street and a concurrent wish for a green card or visa to a Western country. Cities with historical or cultural significance give him a springboard to discuss Persian poetry, the greatness of Persia, and more recent history and its effects. Unlike Elaine Sciolino's Persian Mirrors, which summarizes her experiences reporting from Iran for over 20 years and many visits, this account is total immersion. Both paint a warm and positive picture of a people and a place that have recently been portrayed in the news as the "axis of evil" and as always hostile to the West. Suitable for public libraries. Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This is a wonderful book taking a glance at almost everything that makes Iran what it is.
Niki
Reading this book has given me an in-depth understanding of the Iran's social and economical Issues today.
ITS ME
Afshin Molavi has done a great service for all those interested in Iran, be it culturally or politically.
Yoo S Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Many years ago I lived in Iran. My husband and I, both Americans, worked there for an NGO, (Nongovernmental Agency), and were able to travel throughout the country. Our daughter was born there and when we left Iran, I left a piece of my heart behind. I recently came across Afshin Molavi's "Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran" in a bookstore, and I couldn't resist buying it. After reading the book I must say that it truly brought back so many visual images, unique experiences and memories of Iranian friends, their extraordinary hospitality and culture, and the political turmoil that existed - even back then. I feel like the author has given me a greater understanding of the land I learned to love. He has also updated me on how the country and its people have changed over the years...and how they have remained the same.
Afshin Molavi, a young journalist and writer, was born in Iran and educated in the West. He returned to his homeland for a year, (1999-2000), to explore the many facets of Iranian society. Molavi states at the beginning of the book that his intent is to record the voices of Iranians, no matter what their politics may be. He traveled throughout the country, visiting many of the cities and towns that I knew, on a pilgrimage of sorts. Students of the right and left, bazaar merchants, Islamic clerics, pro-democracy journalists, taxi drivers, urban slum dwellers, village farmers, war veterans, partying teenagers, feminists, women who are pro and anti-veil (chador), political hard-liners and reformers all spoke openly and frankly to him and all have a voice in this wonderful journalistic-anthropological-travelogue.
Molavi weaves a story of nearly 3000 years of Persian/Iranian history and reflects on Iran's present problems in light of its past.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Julia E. Tock on October 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have not read a better written book on Iranian history, culture, and politics. Molavi is brilliant in the way he weaves through Iranian history while at the same time telling the story of contemporary Iran through his interactions with the people. It is at once witty, hopeful, heartbreaking, and charming, but thoroughly entertaining throughout.
I casually came across the title in the book store one morning and by evening I had finished it! For those interested in a fascinating culture and country, I highly highly recommend this. Simply put, Persian Pilgrimages is one of the best books I've read in years!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lee Mincy on December 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
For those considering books on Iran, I can say with utmost sincerity that having read nearly every book on Iran this past decade--from Sandra Mackey to Sciolino to Robin Wright to Bahrampour, etc--that Afshin Molavi's book takes top prize. This is not to take anything away from the others--they were all finely written and had their own value and charm. Persian Pilgrimages, is however, in a class by itself. It combines a broad survey of Iranian history as well as the most accurate account I've read on the happenings in contemporary Iran. Molavi's prose is very eloquent, he combines great writing with a great sense of humor as well as sense of humanity.
I highly recommend this book. It is truly an intimate encounter with one of the world's most fascinating countries and cultures.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Niki on February 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Afshin Molavi is very insightful for his young age. This is a wonderful book taking a glance at almost everything that makes Iran what it is. He not only explains about the history of every place he goes, but relates it to the people of Iran and how it effects them. It's very well written and rather easy to read. I would recommend it as a must read for any Iranian and person who is interested in Iran.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nuriel Goldman on October 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I had not heard of this author prior, but after reading this book I was thoroughly impressed with him. Persian Pilgrimages is very objectively written and does a fantastic job capturing the complexities of Iranian politics. Molavi's prose is very poetic, much more enjoyable to read than an academic text. As an Israeli I feel that I have a much deeper understanding of Iran after reading this book. I recommend Persian Pilgrimages to anyone who loves great writing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Yoo S Lee on October 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Afshin Molavi has done a great service for all those interested in Iran, be it culturally or politically. He weaves his way poetically through 2500 years of Iranian history, along the way telling the many stories of contemporary Iran, much different from the account you will get in the US media. I found myself deeply moved in some sections while other sections made me laugh out loud. For anyone who has ever visited or lived in Iran, whether before the revolution or after, and for anyone with an interest in Iran, the Middle East, or travel writing, I highly highly recomend this book. It is among the very best I've read of its kind.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dariush T on October 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Thank you Afshin Molavi for producing such a vivid and beautiful account of our beloved but beleaugered motherland. For many of us who have not been able to return to Iran for the past 23 years, you have filled in the blanks. For every Iranian who reads this review, either in the US or elsewhere: This book is a must-read account of the land of our roots. Afshin Molavi has done us a great service, and to have done so with such eloquence and objectivity he must be commended. Yek donya mamnoon Afshin agha.
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