Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran

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9780393051193: Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran

The truths about Iran―quite different truths from versions put forward by Washington, Tehran, and the media.

Afshin Molavi, a young journalist and writer born in Iran and educated in the West, traveled his homeland for more than a year, encountering every facet of Iranian society―students of the right and left, bazaar merchants, Islamic clerics, pro-democracy journalists, Islamic hard-liners, reformist politicians, grumbling taxi drivers, urban slum dwellers, partying teenagers, village farmers, handicapped war veterans, and kids hooked on anything western. All opened their hearts to him, speaking candidly about a wide range of issues: unemployment, politics, freedom, religion, poetry, history, the Internet, the legacy of the Islamic revolution, the current pro-democracy movement, Iran's relations with the West, and much more. Throughout his meetings and travels, Molavi wove the tale of nearly 3,000 years of Iranian history through pilgrimages to ancient and contemporary sites, shrines, and monuments, vividly explaining the relevance of Iran's past to today's Iranian predicament. The pilgrimages ranges from the tomb of Cyrus the Great on the windswept plains of Pasargad to the splendid rose gardens at the Shiraz shrine for the fourteenth-century poet Hafez, the golden domes of Ayatollah Khomeini's vast mausoleum in Tehran, a haunting war veterans' shrine for survivors of the devastating Iran-Iraq war near the border of Iraq, and the European embassy "visa pilgrimages" of college graduates frustrated by bleak job prospects and the social and political restrictions at home. Cutting through the official rhetoric of the Islamic Republic, Molavi adds much-needed context to its political power struggle and demonstrates that the realities of today's Iran are far more complex than if often understood in the West. Through interviews with courageous journalists, students, and pro-democracy advocates who battle an entrenched conservative ruling class unwilling to accommodate popular opinion and numerous conversations with average Iranians frustrated by their deteriorating economy and the conservative stranglehold on power, Molavi chronicles a land and a people hungry for change. Few books have penetrated the soul of Iran―both past and present―as deeply as this exceptional report on one of the world's most important nations. Persian Pilgrimages is a journey to remember. "A rare and important work that examines Iranian society from a grassroots, human level while offering a taste of the grand sweep of Iranian history. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in contemporary Iran." ―R. K. Ramazani, professor emeritus of politics, University of Virginia. 12 pages of illustrations and map

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About the Author:

Afshin Molavi has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, has reported on Iran for Reuters and the Washington Post, and contributes to many publications, including Foreign Affairs. He lives in Washington, DC.

From Publishers Weekly:

Journalist Molavi begins the chronicle of his year-long journey through a land in perpetual turmoil by saying, "This is a book about Iran and Iranians." In the midst of America's war on terrorism and as America is faced with the very real possibility of a second war with Iraq, this is a timely read. Reflective and at times deeply personal, Molavi, who was born in Iran and now lives in Washington, D.C., poignantly reveals Iran and its history through the voices of the people he interviewed, including merchants, students, feminists, traditionalists, children and revolutionaries, as they speak on such subjects as poetry, campus politics, personal appearance, democracy, religion, war and the West. In addition to his descriptions of landmarks and monuments, Molavi makes comparisons to other writings on Iran. He takes readers much further beyond the scope of magazine and newspaper articles, leading them through his own discovery of his homeland. In the end, he leaves Iran a conflicted man, weighed down by his new knowledge of the people and himself. "Surely, it would not be the last time I visited Iran, but somehow, I felt melancholy.... Had I seen everything I needed to see? Had I talked to enough people? What was this sense of loss I felt?" Not only a portrait of a country and people, this is also a personal journey into a man's past and his future.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Afshin Molavi
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