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Past, Present, Future

Below are some books about Iran that may interest our readers

Hooman Majd, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 272 pages. Majd, an Iranian who spent much of his life in the West, dissects Iranian culture in a way the American can understand. Witty and insightful, the work allows the Westerner to gain an insider’s view of the Iranian way of life and provides the reader with a basic overview of Iranian thought.


Christiane Bird, Neither East Nor West: One Woman’s Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York: Pocket Books, 2001), 396 pages. Bird, a single female, went into Iran by herself to write this book with little knowledge of Farsi or Iranian culture; the book is a travelogue of her months in Iran. Bird’s work helps dispel common misconceptions that Americans have about Iran, provides amusing social tidbits, and gives an overview of certain important places that one should see. There is a liberal and feminist bias, but this only adds to the flavor.


Sandra Mackey, The Iranians: Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation (New York: Dutton, 1996), 426 pages. Part IV, 271-380 is especially important. While a bit dry for those who do not like history, Mackey provides a record of Iran from its ancient times to the present. Mackey reviews the main dynasties and kingdoms of Iran, and shows why each succeeded and failed; the work helps one grasp why Iranians are how they are today.


Vali Nasr, The Shi’a Revival: How Conflicts with Islam with Shape the Future (New York: WW Norton, 2007), 310 pages. Nasr explains the Shi’a-Sunni conflict in ways laypeople can understand. He believes this clash will have a far-reaching impact on the West’s relations with the Middle East as well as Iran’s dealings with Iraq and the rest of the world.