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Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn: A Hitchhiker's Adventures in the New Iran Hardcover – October 13, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Like a postcard home, Maslin's debut entertains but doesn't inform. The author went to Iran against the better advice of nearly everyone he knew and discovered a country full of hospitable people who seem to want nothing more than to get him another cup of tea. I almost felt surprised, he writes, that the sun was still shining on this side of the border, and it's with obvious delight that he discovers cultural peculiarities: two types of knockers on the doors in the city of Yazd, for instance (one to announce a male visitor, the other for females), or the ongoing use of the qanat, a 3,000-year-old irrigation system (though he's somewhat less enamored of the deep-seated Iranian affection for Irish singer Chris de Burgh). Unfortunately, Maslin's narration is awkward, and while he does provide background information, he doesn't provide sources, leaving the reader to wonder if the occasional small inaccuracy is just that or signifies a larger problem. This book is best read for its surprising snapshots of a culture largely misunderstood in the West; hard facts and analysis are better sought elsewhere. (Nov.)
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“Maslin describes a far more complex and hopeful Iran than outsiders usually perceive.” (Donna Seaman - Booklist)
“Maslin offers invaluable insights into this oppressive and demonized nation as he marvels over its lush valleys and mountains, stark desert, and the magnificent Al Sadr Caves. Intrepid, observant, funny, and charming, Maslin explores Tabriz, Tehran, Esfahn, and the ancient city of Persepolis, and he visits museums, bazaars, and nightclubs, eating splendidly well and drinking gallons of tea, and, on one wild night, 96-proof ethanol (alcoholic beverages are illegal). Maslin describes a far more complex and hopeful Iran than outsiders usually perceive.” (Booklist)
“Jamie Maslin is cool – and he has adventures far beyond anything Jack Kerouac could ever dream of.” (Daily Kos)
“In a time where an understanding of different cultures is more important than ever, I’m so glad we have books like Jamie Maslin’s. Both informative and entertaining, Maslin paints a picture of Iran in stark contrast to the caricature one fed to us by the mainstream media. A riveting off the beaten track tale of adventure and self discovery that can't fail to provide new insight on a country unfairly demonized in the West.” (Cindy Sheehan)
“[A]n unexpectedly enlightening introduction to an unfairly misunderstood country and culture.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“[A]n unexpectedly enlightening introduction to an unfairly misunderstood country and culture. ” (Kirkus Reviews)
“[T]his travelog will appeal to armchair travelers and those wondering about future prospects for Iranian society.” (Library Journal)
Maslin's debut entertains.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A timely and valuable book by a young Westerner who decides to see Iran for himself. Maslin is naive upon his arrival—having no idea what to expect—but keeps an open mind and invites the reader along on his fascinating and colorful adventures. His experiences reveal the lies that mainstream media are telling us about the country. Having read this book, I may visit Iran in the near future.” (Richard Kendrick, author of "Déjà Vu")
“Jamie Maslin follows a long line of intrepid young Britons, from Laurie Lee to Paddy Leigh Fermor and, most recently, Rory Stewart, who set off on a journey to distant parts with little money but lots of curiosity; and return to tell their tale. Maslin has a good ear for dialogue and a keen eye. The result is a hitchhiking odyssey across Iran that provides a fascinating, and timely, behind-the-scenes glimpse of a country the news anchors never reach.” (Simon Worrall, author of "The Poet and the Murderer")
Top customer reviews
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As I read this memoir I found myself laughing out loud and sharing many funny moments with my wife. Read the book and you'll discover these unexpected details of Iranian life: the popularity of Chris de Burgh and "German rock gods" Modern Talking; the effectiveness of the pick-up line "You are beautiful"; "super film" DVDs; the constant greeting of "Can I help you"?; whisky by the can; super-clean subways; friendly taxi drivers; ice cream-jello deserts; the abundance of old Range Rovers and new Hillman Hunters on the roads. The list goes on.
I also found it interesting that many young Iranians despise their government but love their country. A majority of the country's population is made up of young people, and Maslin effectively shows how these young Iranians accept certain Western values while rejecting others, all of which shows a country that is changing.
Some reviewers here have complained that Maslin's periodic discussions of politics and history don't belong, but I disagree. It's impossible to separate the image of Iran from its role in modern history, and Maslin weaves these brief passages about C.I.A. involvement and the 1979 revolution into places where they seem fitting. For the most part they are accurate and in line with what is commonly held to be true among experts on Iran. My only complaint is Maslin's description of the 1979 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran as a student-led, spontaneous event. In fact, the attack was a carefully orchestrated activity by the Ayatollah that went a long way in damaging Iran's reputation around the world. However, to say this book is anti-American because it points out a few ugly truths about American involvement in Iran is silly and just plain ignorant.
Read this book and you'll learn to appreciate your own culture while seeing what a country like Iran has to offer.