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We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs Paperback – November 28, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A unique composite picture of what it's really like to live, work, love and blog in Iran 'This is not the first example of a book made out of blogs... It does, I think, count as the finest so far: an eye-opening collage of extracts from the (roughly) 64,000 Farsi-language bloggers now at work in Iran, threaded by Alavi's illuminating analysis.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent 'Incredibly heartening' Ian Hislop, 'Start the Week', BBC R4 'Every now and again a book comes along that first challenges any preconceived notions you may have about a particular subject, and then turns them completely on their head. We Are Iran is just such a book.' Metro 'This could very well be the nearest thing to a nation writing its own history.' Scotsman 'You won't get a better glimpse of the obsessions and frustrations that exist behind the imposed cliche of the black chador; ideas and passions that thrive despite the rule of what Alavi calls the mutant IslamistsA".' Christopher Dickey, Newsweek 'An eye-opening patchwork of Iranian voices - It would be hard to read We Are Iran without sensing you had glimpsed the affairs of ordinary people living in a cruelly restrictive regime.' Rosemary Goring, Herald 'The blogs are admirably articulate, brave, heartfelt, funny and sad.' New Statesman --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Nasreen Alavi is a British Iranian who gave up a career in the City of London to work for an NGO in Tehran. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; First Edition edition (November 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933368055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933368054
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,303,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By S. M. Hogan on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
All my life I've had the vague idea that Persia was the source of one of the world's most important cultures, but I would have had a hard time explaining why. No longer. Alavi covers a truly impressive range of topics in her exploration of the Iranian blogosphere, from pre-Islamic festivals to postmodern music, but what she does best is *sell* Iran and Iranian culture. After reading this book, I've not only started collecting Iranian recordings and renting Iranian DVDs, I've also decided that life is too short not to learn Persian. If the Iranian authorities were smart, they'd name her Minister of Culture.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lora F. on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys getting the in-depth story from the actual people who are living it, rather than the politicized, over-simplified version that you get from the mainstream media. If you've ever asked yourself, "what is up with Iran?!" this is the book for you. Ms. Alavi risks her life in publishing it, as do the bloggers. It's a testimony to the extraordinary value of free speech that we who have it must never forget to appreciate. This book contains excerpts from blogs written by Iranians. Ms. Alavi intersperses the blogs with historical, cultural, and statistical information about Iran (and Persia). It's fascinating, easy to read, eye-opening, encouraging, and very well-written. It's the kind of book that students in Iranian studies classes should be reading.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mehdi on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading this book and it has been an amazing journey.

I visit Iran almost every year and kind of know what is going on, but I don't live there so I could not pretend to understand the depth of feelings of people living there and why they complained so much when it has improved so much since the war. But now I think I understand the difference... its about hopes and dreams and the ability to make them real.

This is a poor analogy, but if you have ever had to flip burgers during vacation you might not think it was a tough job, but if you were doing that job for 20 years and had the ability and imagination to be much more, but weren't allowed to, it would be the hardest job in the world.

Maybe that's what makes these blogs so moving? In that despite the obvious heartache and frustration they are still threaded with hope and belief that they will make their dreams come true.

The book might not include every opinion in Iran and yes, by selecting blogs as a source, the book can not be 100% proportionally representative of every Iranian thought. People who can't read, don't have a computers etc.

But that doesn't make the book any less insightful or less unique. Without it, what is the next best thing to really reflecting the thoughts of Iranians? Friday prayer speeches? Deluded dubiously funded royalist satellite stations?

For me this book is the most insightful revelation of the thoughts, hopes and aspirations of ANY society I have read. It's not the view of one or two political analysts, politicians or academics. It really is a slice through all sections of society in Iran that keep a blog.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Caesar Warrington on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
I love this book's cover. The frontcover's bottom half features a photo of two young Iranian women, presumably out for the evening, meeting up with other friends. I like the photo because it presents (contrary to what certain elements in our government, our media, or our Israeli allies want Americans to believe) Iranians as people who share the same habits and activities as much as the rest of the world. It is an image of the smiling pretty faces of women, not the grim and bearded ones of clerics and fanatics, which too often come into our minds when we hear the name "Iran." It is an image most befitting a book about the thousands of young Iranians who've dedicated themselves to circulating news and information from throughout the world, as well as their own thoughts and opinions -- despite the constant pressures of harassment and punishment.

Nasrin Alavi begins with a brief look at journalist Hossein Derakhshan who started one of the very first Persian language blogs back in 2001. In response to a reader's request, he created a do-it-yourself guide to blogging. Derakhshan's simple guide would create a phenomenon. By 2003, there were over 64,000 Persian language blogs, with Persian now the fourth most common language on the internet!

While certainly some of the Persian blogs are in line with the Islamic Republic's ideology, the overwhelming majority were started in reponse to the regime's clampdown on print journalism.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Saba on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've already put this coment on Amazon.co.uk. But I liked this book so much that I want to share this with you here too. Althogh I read it once, I'm now reading it again.

The press reviews in the UK that I've come across are glowing, but I've also read a review of this book by an Iranian blogger Shokrolahi (on a Persian website) who has just about issued a religious fatwa against it, even though he admits that he hasn't read it. There have also been hysterical calls to leave negative comments on the Amazon site and they are there on Amzaon.co.uk. What is the point of damming a book you haven't even read? The thing is that they will only force people like me who wouldn't ordinarily bother to do reviews to write about it.

The book is about everything and anything Iranian. This book to me was ultimately about the freedom of expression. My one criticism is that I would have liked to see the author expand on some of the issues especially in chapter 4, in that it may leave non-Iranians with unanswered questions. But I think my best compliment to this book is that as an Iranian I was consciously trying to gauge the author's political leanings and bias and in the end I just couldn't. But I absolutely loved it, because the quotes are real, so moving and intimate and the book is skillfully put together and the closest outsiders will get to the way Iranians think and feel about life and the outside world. It also offers us hope to see a people struggling for a civil society without resorting violence and war, the author depicts vividly how Iranians have had enough of all that. A whole new generation that was not even around during the revolution 25 years ago (70% 0f Iran) is struggling against the fanatics and will in the end win. A lot of people always say that all we hear are the loonies of the Islamic world. Here's the chance to hear the silenced majority.
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We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs
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