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Customer Review

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Perpective on Iranian History and Folklife, March 28, 2006
This review is from: Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (Hardcover)
I bought this book on a recommendation from an Iranian friend of mine who told me that, if I wanted to get a more sophisticated and nuanced view of Iran than the current headlines would allow, I should read the Shahnameh. At the time I hadn't even heard of this book, which is a shame because I now know that it is on a par with the great epic poems of the world. In fact it is in some ways even more epic, as it begins with Creation and has an extremely wide perspective, spanning thousands of years and putting Iran in a global context as far back as antiquity, when the Persian Empire had dealings with Alexander the Great, Roman emperors, India, and China. Who knew that the Persians came to revere Alexander, or that Roman emperors kneeled in submission to Persian kings, that Persians had ventured far to the east, beyond what the greatest minds of ancient Greece still considered the edge of the earth? The Shahnameh also contains human tales of love and loyalty that are just as compelling, and it is fascinating to see the personalities of the Shahnameh sketched with precision and flair by Ferdowsi, the poet. My friend was right, and even though you may not learn much about Iran's modern history and political woes, learning about this rich and vibrant part of Iranian culture, its myths, legends, famous historical figures, is a first step to grasping more about a place and a people than two-minute news stories will ever tell you.
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