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Showing 1-10 of 62 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 114 reviews
on August 1, 2014
this memoir is touching and very moving. it gives a glimpse into the tragic and horrifying world of prisoners in Tehran. it will move you, anger you and help you see the resilience of the human spirit
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on July 13, 2009
The term good would not do justice to my opinions of this book. This is not to say that I agree with all of the author's opinions on all matters, but this well-written account of faith, suffering, and the price of totalitarianism is on the whole superb. Marina is thankfully a talented written and usully manages to keep even the more mundane aspects of growing up in Iran during the Shah's reign interesting. Essentially the story of her arrest, imprisonment, interrogation (with torture in at least one instance), near execution, and an essentially forced relationship with a guard is alternated with her childhood and experience of the 1979 Revolution. The interrogator Ali Moosavi is a fascinating character in the book. In some ways he is one of the most sinister characters but deep down he has numerous good qualities. Marina confesses that she very understandably still doesn't know how to feel for this man who combined ruthlessness with idealism. From one angle he cruelly convinced her to temporarily betray her Christian faith and slept with her against her will. On the other side he twice saved her life including the second time as his final actions on earth. He seemed to have the potential to change right at the moment when he himself became the victim of the regime he had once suffered and fought for
(he not only fought the Iraqis but had himself been tortured earlier by the Shah's men). Despite all the pain and suffering from totalitarianism and war, Nemat herself retains a dignified humility and care for other human beings and thankfully does have a relatively happy ending in the book by emmigrating to Canada with her husband and children. The book also features an interview with the author that is rather interesting. If there is one criticism of the book it is that I wish the author had focused more on the return to her Christian faith and how her experiences had worked to shape her beliefs. This is discussed some but I felt there may have been so much more which could have been contemplated here.

overall, i highly recommend the book.

P.S.
This work does bring up a number of issues. First of all Marina Nemat was faced with criticism from a number of former political prisoners about some details of the book. I can't of course know every single detail in the work was accurate; the author herself admits that time has obscurred some details. It is also worth mentioning that other former iranian political prisoners responded to the attacks by supporting Nemat.

on a larger scale the book should bring to mind three important realities.

1. Political oppression and torture still occurs in Iran though argueably not to the level as under Khomenini (less mass executions anyway).
2. Christian minorities (and other religious minorities) suffer oppression and persecution in vast swathes of the Middle East. This often violent persecution in of course not limited to iran but also includes U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia which is in truth even worse than the Iranians in some respects.
3. There are a surprising number of torture victims living in the West from a whole range of countries. Before writing the book, Nemat worked at a Swiss Chalet restaurant and was living a middle class Canadian life with her husband and children. In short, this reality should give us some pause about the possible experiences of others we may run into. Sometimes it is the most seemingly normal of people who have lived through the nightmare of totalitarianism (whether religious or atheistic or neither).
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on October 30, 2013
This is a vivid description of how a normal teenager's life was overturned by the Islamic revolution in Iran. The descriptions are vivid and make it easy to picture how, before the revolution, Marina's concerns were her grades, her social life, swimming, clothes, minor conflicts with her parents...a life similar to that of the average American teenager. Like many American teens, she went to church and had an active prayer life. Not super holy, but a pretty good kid. The title gives away that she went from that life to prison, misery and choices no teenager should have to face.

I followed the revolution in Iran in the news back when it was happening, but never could imagine how horrible things got for the average person there. I have an Iranian friend who fled Iran with nothing more than her husband, her daughter, and a couple of suitcases, leaving house and bank accounts behind. They are Zoroastrian, and they felt that they had no future in Iran. Although they had to start over in the United States with nothing, they are now doing much better than they would have been had they stayed.

Although most Iranians were better off under the Shah, Marina doesn't gloss over the abuses carried out under his dictatorship. She doesn't paint Muslims as all bad. There were Iranian Muslims who were tolerant of the Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, and atheists living in their country. Unfortunately, these moderates were not the people who ended up in power. Marina's book illustrates clearly the suffering that can result from a government based on a religion. I am grateful for the First Amendment and hope this book will inspire everyone who reads it to be diligent in guarding against encroachments against religious freedom.
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on October 16, 2008
Marina Nemat's memoir of her experience inside Tehran's notorious Evin prison is a well written and riveting account of one woman's brutal treatment at the hands of a brutal regime. The work presents the reader with a number of moral quandaries when confronted with some decisions Marina made during her imprisonment. Were her choices truly good, evil or morally neutral? What else could she do given her dire circumstances? What would you do if you were in her place? To reveal them here would be to spoil a good read, so I will leave them for you to discover. What this work did for me was to humanize the people of Iran. Often enough, when Americans think of Iran and Iranians, we imagine a collective group of fanatics shouting, "Death to America! Death to Israel!" but Marina's book paints a different portrait. Yes, there are plenty of fanatics in Iran, but then there are mostly ordinary people, like Marina's father who ran his own dance studio before the Islamic Revolution ruled that dancing was forbidden. There is tender first love among Iranian teens; a passionate sense of justice by ordinary Iranian students, often with little regard for their own security. There is Marina's chain-smoking and impatient mother; the complex character of Ali, torn by his personal feelings for Marina and his sense of duty to Islamic justice; Andre, the church organist whose enduring love offers Marina hope in the midst of her despair. These are real people with the same aspirations to live their lives in peace and security, just like any human being. For Christians, one can discern the hand of God in Marina's life and throughout her imprisonment. The various events that lead her from the dark terror of Evin to freedom in the West is nothing less than providential. After reading Marina's story, I gained a fresh sense of appreciation and gratitude for the democratic freedoms Americans take for granted. When one considers that a man and woman may not even hold hands in public in Iran, it places many of our social problems in a stark perspective. This work is sure to move, inspire, anger, sadden, and outrage you, but it is also about the triumph of faith and the human spirit in the face of tyranny and intolerance.
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VINE VOICEon September 19, 2007
This book was brought to my attention by a friend who had heard Ms. Nemat speak on the radio. He was moved by her experience in Iran as it so closely mirrored his own. Having listened to his stories of surviving the Revolution in Iran, I decided to read this book as well.

Ms. Nemat is a teen-aged girl living in Tehran when the Shah is deposed and the Islamic Revolution begins in full force. She is a Christian who has lived a normal life in Iran, up until turmoil brought on by the revolution skews what she knows. When she attempts to appeal that academic subjects be taught in school, she finds herself jailed in Evin, the notorious prison in Tehran. What follows is her story, as she remembers, of her 2 years in this prison, her release, and survival.

Ms. Nemat admits upfront this book is her story, remembered many years later. And, as many of us know, memories are what they are - but they are ours. This book reads very much like a conversation with the author, rather than straight factual account of events. This easy-going style makes the book easy to read and causes the reader to get caught up in the author's life tale.

I know that several reviewers here and other places over the internet have stated that Ms. Nemat's story is not "real." I simply can't speak to that. I was born and raised in the U.S., and Iran is a different country and a different culture from what I am used to. But I will state there were events in the book that I found difficult to believe had happened. If Ms. Nemat states she remembers these events, then I suppose they are true. But they do seem rather fantasical.

I would recommend this book. It is engaging, interesting, and allows the reader to view a different world than normally seen. However, I personally would like to read other stories from women with similar experiences to get a comparison. (Those that I have seen so far have been in languages other than English.) Yet, for an interesting read, I don't think too many will be disappointed with this book for one woman's view.
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on May 15, 2007
It's not necessary to repeat the positive things already mentioned in the other reviews. I, too, heard Ms. Nemat speak on NPR and was motivated by her interview to buy her book. Her moving story kept me spellbound. Ms. Nemat writes with grace and courage. She is a role model for humanity.
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on June 16, 2007
This young woman tells us about the hopelessness surrounding daily living challenges where men, women and children try and navigate life in Tehran ...where church and state are the same.

Church and state issues collide in such a way to negate any though of the future and a better life.

Fear rules daily life and yet those living this life don't recognize the fear.

The memories offered in this work offer the perfect rational for not using military force to change a culture where religion is life and life is religion.

Prisoner of Tehran could be useful as a discussion work in a classroom or reading group.

I recommend without reservation.
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on November 14, 2016
Marina Nemat is a Blessed Soul of Light. The Karma of those that hurt her and the other's who were tortured and murdered will come upon them. God is not mocked. Cosmic justice will always prevail. Especially when the victim forgives the perpetrator's. And she forgave them. I hope the media exposes how Iran is torturing, murdering and jailing the poets. I hope that our newly elected President Trump will take steps to help restore freedom in Iran when dealing with them. Some were sentenced to prison and 99 lashes. There is a video on YouTube of a man in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to 20 lashes for drinking beer. Look at what happened by 20 lashes. This is vicious barbaric torture.
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on October 31, 2016
I cannot understand how horrific being prisoned here must have been. A total miracle this woman survived and still had sanity. I have trouble understanding the Islamic religion and ways. Such cruel ways of treating women. I did not enjoy reading this, but tried to gain some perspective.
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on August 16, 2012
Very well written; very raw. I've read memoirs where the writing was elegant, the story was eloquently beautified and reality was a bit sugar-coated, and while that kind of writing has its own place, I don't think it belongs in real-life accounts, or memoirs. I found Marina's style to be raw, real, and refreshing. Poetic and graceful as well, but very real - it's just her story. Excellently written. And as someone who has spent time living in the Middle East, this story was especially home-hitting and meaningful for me. Two thumbs up.
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