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The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran Paperback – July 28, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Perhaps the best book yet written on the contradictions of contemporary Iran.... It captures like no book in recent memory the ethos of the country, in elegant and precise prose.” —Los Angeles Times
“Illuminating.... Captivating.... A discerning guide to a complex country.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the paradox that is Iran (as well as America) in the post-Bush world.” —GQ
“In this delightful book, Hooman Majd, a gifted storyteller, takes us on a tour of his own private Persia, which is also the Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The results are illuminating, humorous, sobering, and ultimately reassuring.”
—Jon Lee Anderson, author of The Fall of Baghdad
“Hooman Majd is a stylish and engaging guide through the by-ways of Iranian life. Leading us from seminary to opium den to the presidential compound, his wry sense of humor makes this book a pleasure to read.” —Gary Sick, Ph.D., senior research scholar at Columbia University and member of the National Security Council staff under presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan
“A witty, timely perspective on the nation posing the greatest challenge to our next President. Travel writing often makes for easy reading at the expense of relevant information, which gets lost in the details. Not so with The Ayatollah Begs to Differ.”
—Bill White, mayor of Houston and U.S. secretary of energy under President Clinton
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Top Customer Reviews
I am an Iranian myself and I've never seen anyone describing the subtleties of my culture with this level of eloquence and clarity. Ta'arouf is very complex to explain and in my opinion Hooman has nailed it brilliantly.
Note to Mr Majd, time to write about America and American culture for Iranian people. Let's keep the dialogue going; let's disappoint the warmongers.
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.
Politically, Majd's deep biases are evident throughout the book, which is not surprising given that he is connected with numerous high ranking Iranian political figures, is related to, and worked for, former President Khatami and has acted as a translator for Pres Ahmadinejad. Thus, not surprisingly, the author is clearly in the pro-Islamic Republic camp, if with minor reservations (without explicitly saying so, he portrays himself as a "reformist"). In this light, the book is replete with constant denigration of the monarchy and the former Shah and his supporters, yet very little, if minor, criticism of Khomeini or the ISI. Readers, not to mention a few historians, may be somewhat surprised to hear him refer to the monarchy as a "totalitarian dictatorship" whereas he considers the IRI an "islamic democracy.Read more ›
The results, as so accurately noted in the cover leaf, are part memoir, part cultural criticism, and part travelogue. But more than this, almost everything comes as a surprise to the Western mind and eyes: the openness of the society despite the religious hold on the culture by the conservative forces (who consider themselves as the only legitimate stakeholders); the yearning for democracy (despite its many contradictions and its trigger like volatility), and both the vibrancy as well as the inherent tension and deep layers of hypocrisy inherent in the culture, itself.
The results of the author's analysis and his suggestions for a way ahead are as surprising as is the picturesque tour of Iranian culture itself: There is little room left for, or basis in, our anti-Iranian prejudices and bullying geopolitics as the sole guide for our thinking about Iran: The 1979 revolution is over, and another one is far along in the making.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An important book on a sensitive topic and well-written. As someone who also would often describe myself as 100 percent Iranian and 100 percent American (before ever having read... Read morePublished 2 months ago by ReaderMill
A fantastic look into Iran for Western audiences because Majd is extremely adept at conveying ideas in English that evoke very particular emotions. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
What a wonderful sense of humour Hooman Majd has. Plus he is able to make us understand what is happening in Iran and why. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Monina
Wonderful explanation of the Shia mind in Iran. I read prior to a trip to Iran, and highly recommend it if one is going there.Published 3 months ago by Fiona Chalom
This book has interesting information about Iran, but you have to force your way through a horrible writing style to get it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Retiree
This book was enormously informative for me as I read it while simultaneously being on a trip in Iran. Read morePublished 6 months ago by longitude
Great book! Very interesting topic and I love his first hand experiences and the way he weaves the story.Published 7 months ago by easwim