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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Autobiographical Tale in Graphic Novel Form
THE COMPLETE PERSEPOLIS brings together in one softbound volume two graphic novels published earlier in English (translated from French): PERSEPOLIS 1 - THE STORY OF A CHILDHOOD, and PERSEPOLIS 2 - THE STORY OF A RETURN. As a single volume, Ms. Satrapi's work reads as a seamless story of an Iranian woman's maturation from a young girl in the Shah's (and Ayatollah...
Published on January 15, 2008 by Steve Koss

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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings
I have mixed feelings about Persepolis.

The first half (the original first volume) was overall excellent and eye-opening. Very much a view of this turbulent period in Iran from the point of view of a child. However, near the end of the first volume and for near all of the second, I find myself disliking the narrator more and more. She is a child of privilege,...
Published on September 3, 2011 by Scarlet Inkwell


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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Autobiographical Tale in Graphic Novel Form, January 15, 2008
By 
Steve Koss (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
THE COMPLETE PERSEPOLIS brings together in one softbound volume two graphic novels published earlier in English (translated from French): PERSEPOLIS 1 - THE STORY OF A CHILDHOOD, and PERSEPOLIS 2 - THE STORY OF A RETURN. As a single volume, Ms. Satrapi's work reads as a seamless story of an Iranian woman's maturation from a young girl in the Shah's (and Ayatollah Khomeini's) Iran to her high school years in Austria, back to the Iran attacked by Saddam Hussein and then transformed into a fundamentalist Islamic state, and finally back again to Europe as a young adult. The book's title is borrowed from the name of ancient Persia's ceremonial capital, dating back some 2,500 years, although Persepolis is in fact the Greek translation of the original Persian name, Parsa.

The story is strictly autobiographical, rendered as a memoir of childhood and young adulthood. Satrapi begins her story at age ten, the daughter of well-educated and well-off parents who put a premium on their daughter's religious and academic independence. Marjane's parents prod their pre-adolescent daughter toward a liberal education and encourage her to speak out. However, being a rebel against oppression in Iran leads inevitably to trouble and expulsion from school. Her parents recourse is to pack young Marjane off to Austria, isolated and alone in a foreign and far more secular culture. A series of mostly negative experiences leads her back to her homeland and an unsuccessful marriage during the early years of Iran's fundamentalist revolution with its growing religious oppression. When the young adult Marjane and her parents finally realize that her future lies not in Iran but in Europe, she heads off to France where she still lives today.

Ms. Satrapi characterizes herself as the perennial outsider wherever she lives. As a young girl, political and religious events contradict her upbringing and isolate her from the accepted beliefs and behaviors. The author conveys her childhood desperation by repeated depictions of herself talking to an ancient, white-bearded God, even cradled in his arms. She is even more the outsider in Austria, forever fumbling in her discoveries of Western culture only to become enslaved by some of its worst features. Returning to Iran after her high school years, Marjane is too Westernized to be Iranian, yet still too Iranian to feel Western. The author's journey to self-discovery and finding her true home serves as the core of her story, punctuated by her departures and arrivals. In fact, some of the most dramatic scenes in THE COMPLETE PERSEPOLIS take place at airports.

Satrapi's black-and-white cartooning emphasizes contrast over detail. Indeed, her drawings of people are exceedingly simplified, lacking in all except the basic features necessary to portray a character. This simplicity works, as it stands in stark contrast to the complexity of Iran's constantly changing social, political, and religious structures as well as the complexity of the author's own life and the choices she faced. These minimalist renderings, hardly more detailed than Schulz's "Peanuts" characters, create an even greater dissonance when their childlike simplicity clashes with the horrors of war and the Iranian government's seizures and executions of many of its citizens. The reader is so effectively lulled into this seemingly benign, comic book world that Satrapi's occasional dropping of an expletive into her character's thoughts or words has the force of a slap in the face. When young Marjane returns home to see the dead, braceleted arm of one of her neighborhood friends (killed by one of Saddam Hussein's missiles) extending from her wrecked home, the author resorts to the powerful simplicity of a completely black panel captioned, "No scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and my anger."

There is a natural temptation to compare PERSEPOLIS to Art Spiegelman's MAUS I and MAUS II. However, I believe the Maus books are sui generis, allegorical tales whose use of mice and cats puts Spiegelman's books in a class of their own. By contrast, Satrapi's PERSEPOLIS novels are autobiographical volumes rendered in illustrated form to trace an Iranian woman's struggle to find herself while still loving a country from which she feels irretrievably estranged. Satrapi's and Spiegelman's work complement one another and demonstrate the emotional power graphical novels are increasingly finding ways to achieve.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Persepolis: both hilarious and deeply moving, February 24, 2008
This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
Last weekend I had the joy of seeing the film adaptation of the comic book series PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi. I loved the film. I knew though that I was missing out some key points of Marjane's life so I decided to check out the complete version of PERSEPOLIS in paperback. Although the book is in the form of a graphic novel, the story is a memoir of Marjane Satrapi's life growing up in Iran as well as outside of Iran. I also got the impression that the story is a love letter to Marjane's late grandmother who was a huge influence on Marjane as a young woman. People can nitpick at the details of life in Iran during and after the reign of the Shah that Marjane has written in the book but lets keep this in perspective that this book is not a tome on Iran but an autobiography told from the personal point of view from the author. She told what life was like in Iran through her young, impressionable eyes.

Like the Oscar-nominated film, PERSEPOLIS is told with a lot of humor, sadness, and often anger. I could not put the book down. I found myself deeply engrossed in Marjane's life as as child as well as an adult. I enjoyed the animation. I liked how fluid the shapes of the characters flowed. If you have seen the film adaptation of PERSEPOLIS, the book version is definitely worth reading. There is quite a bit of information from Marjane's life that just couldn't fit into the time constraints of the film.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Phenomenon In More Ways Than One, December 24, 2007
By 
Caesar M. Warrington (Aldan, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
As a child Marjane Satrapi lived through the 1979 Iranian Revolution and its aftermath.

Included here are Satrapi's internationally-acclaimed graphic novels, PERSEPOLIS: The STORY Of A CHILDHOOD and PERSEPOLIS 2: The STORY Of A RETURN. Combining clear analysis with a sharp sense of humor, the first volume tells the story of Marjane and her family's experiences during the final years of the Monarchy, its downfall, and the subsequent rise of Khomeini and the Islamic Republic. A more personal volume, PERSEPOLIS 2 follows Marjane's student years in Vienna and her later return to Iran.

Together with Vincent Paronnaud, Satrapi also co-wrote and co-directed the animated film version.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freedom has a price., December 8, 2007
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This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
This book collects Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. Both books are graphic novels telling the true story of the author's life. Book one tells the story of her girlhood in Iran and ends when she leaves Iran to go to a boarding school in Austria. Book two picks up where book one left off, and tells the rest of her story up to the point where she leaves Iran for the second and last time. This is a great, moving story. I found myself empathizing with this girl, even though she comes from a culture nothing like mine and we have nothing in common. It obviously wasn't easy growing up a progressive girl in a represive culture. I could go on and on about the virtues of this book, but it's better if you just read it and find out for yourself. Or see the "major motion picture". (aren't all motion pictures "major"? at least according to their publicity.)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, a must-read, October 29, 2007
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This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
i am not someone who typically enjoys 'cartoon' strips, but i could not put this book down and read it fervently. i received this book as a gift after having visited iran a couple of times, and i was interested in learning more about the history and culture. what marjiane captures of her childhood, and her evolution into adulthood, is thoughtful, amusing, heart-breaking and at times hilarious. at times she softens the brutality of her words with the humor of amusing caricatures, or sometimes the simplicity of what she sees as a child is made more stark and tragic by her drawings. her personal journey and her family's experiences during and after the revolution really give one pause. i would highly recommend this book, it is rich with humor and emotion.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully-Executed Memoir., December 21, 2007
By 
Robert Blake (Santa Monica, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
"Persepolis" is a unique trip into the past by Marjane Satrapi, who uses the graphic novel approach to give us a rich narrative full of happiness, heartbreak, suspense and wicked comedy. These are her illustrated memories of her childhood in Iran during the brutal reign of the Shah and then her and her family's experiences during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and afterwards as fundementalists come to power and Satrapi's world changes forever. Like the best memoirs Satrapi's are strikingly honest and objective. This is neither a protest against Iran's system or an endorsement, it is the record of a woman's life during important historical events and how these events individually affect people, lives and personal histories. With beautiful, comic illustrations Satrapi brings her family's fascinating story to life, we see her grow-up with educated, Leftist parents who raise her knowing about the PLO, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Iran's own martyrs. They despise the U.S.-backed, or better put, the U.S.-INSTALLED regime of the Shah and passionately take to the streets to protest the Monarch. Marjane watches all this with wonderous curiosity as she imagines Marx and God debating. When the Shah falls there is cheering in the streets, but soon the country finds itself divided as the Islamic Republic is born and friends, families and loved ones are torn apart by the new way of life and a brutal war with Iraq. Satrapi chronicles all this and more, including her early years as an exile in Europe with a sharp eye for details big and small, with great humor and a style that makes this a universal story. Many of us will find ourselves relating to so much of what Marjane goes through, the way she explores her inner thoughts, worries and moments of joy is impressive because of the heart and psychological depth she displays. This edition of "Persepolis," where parts 1 and 2 are combined due to the upcoming release of the motion picture edition should be the definitive edition for readers to purchase. Once you start reading you get hooked, and there's no sense in having to look for part two when you can have the complete story here. "Persepolis" is one of the best recent memoirs about those who experienced the Islamic Revolution, and one of the best memoirs in general. Satrapi's book is also a cultural gem, because in our tense times it is important to read the stories that display the humanity of "the other side." Satrapi does not condone much of what the Islamic regime did in the years immediately following the revolution, but she also makes a point of why the revolution happened. She doesn't shy away from showing how friends of her family were tortured by the Shah's secret police, the Savak or from the fact that the Savak were trained by the CIA. In her introduction Satrapi clearly mentions that in 1953 the CIA overthrew Iran's Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, because he planned to nationalize the country's oil, and installed the Shah as supreme leader. Satrapi shows an impressive, objective look at history, something we need now more than ever when talking about the Middle East. "Persepolis" is a masterpiece, a grand effort that deserves to be read more than once.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings, September 3, 2011
This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
I have mixed feelings about Persepolis.

The first half (the original first volume) was overall excellent and eye-opening. Very much a view of this turbulent period in Iran from the point of view of a child. However, near the end of the first volume and for near all of the second, I find myself disliking the narrator more and more. She is a child of privilege, yet never seems to acknowledge this after her initial "Oh, the poor maid" vignette. The story becomes more and more internal, focusing on the narrator's "suffering," which amounts to typical teenaged angst spiced by the woes that many immigrants have faced across time and place. I would have liked to see a more reflective look at this period of the narrator's life, something written from the point of view of an adult looking back rather than from the point of view of the spoiled adolescent, something that took place in history, rather than just inside the narrator's head. And that is what most turned me off of the second half. The narrator of the second half IS a spoiled adolescent and this fact is rarely, if ever, reflected upon. She comes from an incredibly privileged position, with her parents able to send her off to school and away from a war zone, yet she manages to continually make poor choices: mouthing off to those she is beholden to, doing and dealing drugs, and refusing to even consider others' foibles.

In the interests of full disclosure, I did not finish reading the book. This was as far as I got before I decided to put it down. It is entirely possible that it got better, that there WAS a reflective voice later on, but I found myself so frustrated by the middle section that I felt no need to continue through it.

I do, however, recommend at least trying to read it. The first half, as noted before, was certainly worthwhile and it is possible that those with less baggage than I would find the adolescent narrator less grating. For myself, I am happy to have read the first half, but am just as happy to have set it down in the second.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally absolutely loved it, May 3, 2008
This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
Without harping too much on what has already been said about the political observations that Satrapi makes or her commentary on the limits faced by everyone (and most especially) women in Iran, the truly inspirational achievement of this work is how honest she can be about herself in the story. That with everything whirling around her, the fact that she can be honest about both the good and the bad of the relationships she'd been in, the despair both at home and abroad, the flickers of hope that she clung to during the darkest times and how (true to the reality of a hopeful young woman) the very worst thing that can happen is ultimately to let down yourself and to let down your loved ones is stark and amazing. The scene where she loses the trust and the good standing with her grand mother is heart-breaking and yet could happen to any teenage girl anywhere in the world. That it's depicted in basic drawings doesn't detract from the power of the moment in the least.

And not that graphic novels these days have any trouble being seen as legitimate art, but Persepolis certainly puts a nail in the coffin of the arguments made by detractors.

Trust this book for it's emotion, for it's personal honesty, for it's attempts to always find something good even under the most extreme circumstances. It is not a history book. It is a personal history book. And it is one that deserves applause.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete Persepolis, December 26, 2007
By 
Jo A. Wiggins "T-CHER" (Fredericksburg VA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
Amazingly insightful into Persian culture and the difference between the common people and the mullah elite. Satrapi is very frank, and I found myself relating to her suffering and admiring her integrity. This book was intriguing from start to finish, partially because of its comic book form. I think this would be a good book for a teenager to read to understand what life would be like in the U.S. without our personal freedoms.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, November 19, 2007
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This review is from: The Complete Persepolis (Paperback)
It's been a long time since a book has affected me as much as Persepolis. I think it's the point of view, of a young girl growing into a young adult, that makes the story so poignant. How we come to our beliefs, how our beliefs sometimes shift, how we find ourselves making choices that don't necessarily reflect those beliefs: all of this and more is eloquently written and drawn in this memoir. If everyone who thinks people in the Middle East, or all Muslims, are our enemies would read this book, perhaps we would be able to focus on the REAL enemies of our democracy.
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The Complete Persepolis
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Paperback - October 30, 2007)
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