At the Ministry of Intelligence in Tehran, a man in a checkered shirt sits down in an easy chair. He removes several documents from his pocket and hands one to Haleh Esfandiari, a sixty-seven-year-old Iranian American grandmother he has interrogated and detained for what seems to be an endless number of weeks. “This is your arrest warrant and we are taking you to Evin Prison," he says.
This stunning arrest was the culmination of a chain of events set into motion in the early-morning hours of December 31, 2006—a day that began like any other but presaged the end of Esfandiari's regular visits to her elderly mother in Iran, and her return to the United States. That morning, the driver arrived on time. Her mother held the Quran over her head for blessing and luck. From the car, Haleh waved good-bye. She checked for her passport and plane ticket. But as the taxi neared the airport, a sedan forced them to pull over. Three men, armed with knives, threatened her and her driver while going through her pockets and stealing her belongings—including her travel documents. She was left unharmed but would not fly home to the States that day. “An ordinary robbery," Esfandiari insisted to friends and family. She took steps to secure a new passport and book a new flight. But it would not be until eight months later that she would leave Iran.
Esfandiari became the victim of the far-fetched belief on the part of Iran's Intelligence Ministry that she, a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C., was part of an American conspiracy for “regime change" in Iran. In haunting prose and vivid detail, Esfandiari recounts how the Intelligence Ministry subsequently ordered a search of her mother's apartment; put her through hours, then weeks, of interrogation; tapped her phone calls, forcing her to speak in code to her husband and mother; and finally detained her at the notorious Evin Prison, where she would spend 105 days in solitary confinement.
Through her ordeal, Esfandiari came face-to-face with the state of affairs between Iran and the United States—and witnessed firsthand how fear and paranoia could create a government that would take her captive. Weaving her personal story of capture and release with her extensive knowledge of Iran, My Prison, My Home is at once a mesmerizing story of survival and a clear-eyed portrait of Iran today and how it came to be.
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My Prison, My Home is the harrowing true story of Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari’s arrest on false charges and subsequent incarceration in Evin Prison, the most notorious penitentiary in Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Esfandiari’s riveting, deeply personal, and illuminating first-person account of her ordeal is the inspiring tale of one woman’s triumph over interrogation, intimidation, and fear. Offering a shocking, close-up view inside the paranoid mindset of the repressive Ahmadinejad regime, My Prison, My Home sheds light on a high-stakes international incident that sparked protests from some of the world’s most influential public figures—including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline AlbrightFrom the Back Cover:
On December 31, 2006, sixty-seven-year-old scholar and grandmother Haleh Esfandiari was on her way home to the United States from Iran when she became the victim of a far-fetched conspiracy theory. On the suspicion that she was part of an American plot to bring “regime change” to Iran, the Intelligence Ministry detained, interrogated, and eventuallyarrested her. For the next 105 days, she lived in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison. Weaving together memories of her childhood in Iran, her story of capture and release, and her extensive knowledge of her homeland, My Prison, My Home is at once a mesmerizing story of survival and a clear-eyed portrait of Iran today and how it came to be.
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