Starred Review. In this critical but affectionate portrait of Iranian politics and culture, Majd, the Western-educated grandson of an ayatollah, delves into the very core of Iranian society, closely examining social mores and Farsi phrases to identify the Persian sensibility, which, Majd determines, cherishes privacy, praise and poetry. Nothing is too small or too sweeping for Majd to consider, and although he announces his allegiance to the former president Khatami, he remains scrupulously even-handed in assessing his successor Ahmadinejad, shedding light on the Iranian president's obsession with the Holocaust and penchant for windbreakers and why the two are (surprisingly) intertwined. The author's brisk, conversational prose is appealing; his book reads as if he is chatting with a smart friend, while strolling around Tehran, engaged in ta'arouf (an exaggerated form of self-deprecation key to understanding Persian society). Although Majd seems to gloss too quickly over realities that don't engage his interest—women's voices are only intermittently included—this failing scarcely mars this remarkable ride through what is often uncharted territory. (Oct.)
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“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 ClintonSee all Editorial Reviews
This book was enormously informative for me as I read it while simultaneously being on a trip in Iran. Read morePublished 25 days ago by longitude
Great book! Very interesting topic and I love his first hand experiences and the way he weaves the story.Published 1 month ago by easwim
This gives the reader a different view than is portrayed in our daily news. Will help the reader understand the people and their motivations a bit better. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Frans Erickson
This is a very interesting description of cultural differences and perceptions.Published 10 months ago by Frank
This book allows readers the unique opportunity to learn about modern Iranian life through submersion into the culture that feels very personal and real. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Catherine Harris
I read this book with my husband who was born and raised in Iran. He agrees on most of the observations the author makes about Iranian culture.Published 13 months ago by Carolyn Ameli
Good book for my library.
Haven't finished reading it yet as it is kind of dry and requires special mood to get to read it.