Though deliberate in its pace and what I might call dry in tone, I believe this book, which I read over the summer, masterfully reveals the real Iran as it was in the last two decades of the twentieth-century, and gives the best insights I've yet found into that nation today: a country founded on the principles of a blood-soaked revolution. Forget what you hear on the evening news, read this book and approach Iranian culture with an open mind. I think you'll be startled, as I was, at much of what you learn. If the culture of Iran at the time of the Islamic uprising of 1979 was justifiably viewed by Americans as shocking, then it was also certainly fascinating in all its depth. This book takes us inside Iran from the point of view of a number of its citizens, as the pro-western nation in which they'd grown up retreats 1300 years in an effort to save itself from what it views as destruction from the outside. It is too easy to characterize Islamic fundamentalists as unintelligent and backward, but let us make no mistake, many who take that stance are shrewd, brilliant, and above all proudly commited to their way of life. In The Mantle of the Prophet, the reader will meet many of these.
This book gives descriptions of all areas of life under the Ayatollahs, from the law courts, to the marketplaces, the army, to the mosques themselves, and introduces us to real people who lived through those frightening times. This book is as important today in the age of nuclear proliferation as it was when first published in 1985. Anyone who wants to learn about life inside fundamentalist Iran would do no better than to add The Mantle of the Prophet to her reading list.