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Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran Paperback – October 2, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Elliot (An Unexpected Light) traveled to Iran and returned with this finely detailed, timely portrait of a country and culture precariously balanced between East and West, dark and light, integration and Armageddon. Whether careening around the smog and traffic clogged capital city of Tehran in a battered cab or crawling through the rubble-strewn ruins of Persepolis, capital of the ancient Persian kings, Elliot's keen eye, supple mind and compelling way with words captures the rich, complex, contradictory essence of Iran, its history and people. Everywhere he travels, Elliot explores a central question—will Iran, a country with a deep and abiding history of scientific innovation, fine art, high culture and beauty, step into modernity or will the revolutionary mullahs, the guardians and promoters of Islamic fundamentalism, take the country further down the road of isolation. In the cities, a culture of duality exists—behind closed doors, liquor flows freely, music is enjoyed and women are free to express themselves fully. On the streets, however, religious extremism rules, manifested by squads of bearded enforcers looking out for infractions of their version of Islamic law. With Iran so central in the news, this is a good read for the armchair traveler and amateur geo-political strategist alike. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
In this penetrating account of a series of journeys to Iran, Elliot reports on the "double life" of the Persians he meets, who unanimously denounce the ruling mullahs. One insists that youre nobody in Iran if you havent been imprisoned; another rolls his eyes at the authors obsessive trawling of mosques, protesting, "People will think Im with a fanatic." The book is replete with historical arcana (such as the second-century Parthian tactic of catapulting jars of bloodsucking flies at enemies), ruminations on the "turbulent calligraphies" of Islamic architecture, and labyrinthine footnotes that threaten to leap off into tomes of their own. Elliot is a travel writer of the old school: untethered to an itinerary, eager to be led astray, and as ardent an observer of the experience of travelling as of his destination.
Copyright © 2006 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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This book truly made me re-think the way I view my heritage as a kid of Iranian descent. All the dull crud my parents and grandparents mentioned suddenly emerged from the pages of Mr Elliot's book, burnished anew to a dazzling sheen. I cannot recommend this book more highly for its insight into Iranian culture and the Persian civilisation(s) on which it's built.
Truly a timely and poetic read:)
His historic overview of past dynasties and their contribution to culture and architecture was interesting but not what I was looking for.
What does come across well is the hospitality and friendliness of the Iranian People.
I have great respect for Mr. Elliot, his knowledge and his writing. My only minor complaint (in a lighthearted way) is how much he writes about haggling with taxi drivers and some merchants over money perhaps not realizing that most of it is also part of todays' cultural complexities of Iran and indirectly a result of economic and political instabilities dominant in contemporary Iran. I know he was poor while traveling but sometimes he went out of his way to talk about what would've amounted to a dollar or two difference in a transaction. I have some good British friends and they all seem to be the same way!! :-)