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Searching for Hassan: A Journey to the Heart of Iran Paperback – March 4, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
A U.S. State Department warning is usually enough to deter most Americans from traveling to countries in turmoil. But when the mission of the trip was to find a long-lost Iranian named Hassan, not even the inability to obtain visas in the U.S. could stop the Ward family. In 1998, Ward, his parents and three brothers returned to Iran to track down Hassan, a warm, thick-mustached chef and dispenser of folk wisdom who had looked after their family when they lived in Tehran during the 1960s. Ward skillfully draws readers into his family's state of heightened anticipation, especially since their only tip was the vaguely remembered name of Hassan's hometown. "Toodesht," Ward's mother remembered. "Well, just a minute.... Maybe it was... Tadoosht. Or... Qashtood." Aided by a 30-year-old photograph, the Wards traveled to Tudeshk and eventually found Hassan's mother-in-law, and later, Hassan's wife, Fatimeh, who is so taken aback that she dropped the receiver. Using the trip as his main narrative thread, Ward weaves Iranian history, culture, politics and religion in and around it. The writing stiffens and the pace slows only when Ward reaches back to describe his childhood in Tehran. Ultimately, Ward, a Colorado-based management consultant, succeeds in his loving portrait of a constantly changing, complex land.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In a prologue set in Tehran in the 1960s, Ward relates how he and his brothers were initiated by the wise Hassan into the mysteries of the Zoroastrian fire festival. But these boys, who so wholeheartedly absorbed their mentor's teachings, were not Iranians but Americans. Returning to the United States, their parents lost touch with Hassan. Iran went through an Islamic revolution, a devastating war with Iraq, and finally another reform movement; the boys grew up and their parents grew older. Yet they never stopped missing Hassan and his family. In 1998, when Iran once more began to admit Westerners, the whole family-four grown men and their now-elderly parents-went back to search for their old friends. Miraculously they did find Hassan-but this is just one aspect of the story. Readers will feel a part of the family, learning how the strengths of each individual contributed to the success of the quest, and the journey is described to striking visual effect, conveying a passion for every experience. As the author reflects on the history, politics, and religion of the country, complex cultural issues become understandable in the light of real human lives. The spiritual lessons learned from Hassan, and new ones gained from new acquaintances, carry the Wards forward as they learn to "look beyond the predicament of politics" to find the "timeless, immutable soul of Iran." An illuminating and fascinating adventure.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
A couple of quick observations:
1. The Iranian people - as a whole - are incredible hosts. As the author notes at one point: "Expect to suffer from excessive hospitality." Never have a people been so misrepresented in the mainstream press.
2. Conventional wisdom to the contrary, the Ward family feels that the Iranian people - as a whole - have faired better under theocratic rule than under the Shah (the poverty witnessed by the author's parents pre-Revolution appears - under observation - to be not as widespread or abject). Again, this is their observation and opinion.
3. You get a sense of the lost opportunity of the reformers. The Wards' trip comes on the heels of the election of the then-Prime Minister Khatami, and the sense of promise is palpable throughout the country. Not without reason, thanks to his good looks, stylishness and Western manners (fluent in English and German, for example), Khatami is described as "our country's JFK." Looking back at this now in 2006 with the reform movement clearly set back in the last election, one can't help but be disheartened. I'm sure the author feels the same way.
back to Iran in the 90's in search of their Iranian family. Details of history, customs, Iranian
hospitality and an overland journey make this an exciting book.
My family knew the Wards and we were living in Masjid-i-Suliman and Tehran at the same time they were. It
was fulfilling to read this historical memoir.