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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book worthy of it title, 18 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Iran: Empire of the Mind: A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day (Paperback)
This is an admirable historical book, well researched to explore major events that have so greatly influenced cultural, religious and political life of the Iranians and their immediate neighbours. It is a huge undertaking to pack two and a half thousands years of history in three hundred pages nevertheless, it has achieved to certain extend defining the psychology of such a diverse characteristics of Iranian as a nation. The earlier chapters of the book mainly deal with the political climate defining the Persian borders with other empires. This could be due to the scarcity of valid detailed information about the populations living at the time. The later chapters dealing with post Arab invasion has much more detailed view of the Iranians possibly due to the abundance of available data. The advents of the Sufism and Shi'ism plus their basic doctrines are well presented.
The final sections that deal with the last two centuries of the Iranian history and Iranians is rather controversial from the point of view of an Iranian such as me. The first point concerns the manipulation by foreign governments particularly the British of the Iranian socio/economic situations during the time of the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties. The brief review of how Iranians were taken advantages of and how their aspirations for a just and democratic society was destroyed by the British government in particular seems biased and smell of a cover up. However, its lasting effects remains on the Iranians' Psyche for generations to come with possibly disastrous consequence. To understand better and do justice to the predicament that Iranians are suffering now the events leading to the overthrow of Dr. Mossadegh should be explained in more detail. I even suggest to place his bust replacing those of Churchill and the like!
The next issue is the book appears to portrait Iranians as generally a religious nation or taking their religion quite seriously. Having grown up in Iran and coming across people from different parts of the country with equally divers background, I can safely say that for the majority of Iranians religion and belief are two different aspects of spiritual expressions. The former is used to define ones position in the society, and therefore can be very flexible and fluid. Take the current situation living under the Islamic government and you see evidence of two faceted way of conduct; one exclusively for appearing in public and the other belonging to ones private life (and that goes right across the class divide). One of the reasons Iranians are famous for being master of deception and lying is their capability of camouflaging their true feelings when it is needed for survival. Belief is not touchable by any outside influence and is an expression of ones inner self, and that is the reason for the spread and popularity of poetry amongst the masses. In conclusion, to an average Iranian it is not a particular religion that one becomes devoted to since they all more or less say the same thing but it is a tool that can protect your personal belief, and that is why the choice of the title of this book is so apt.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Feb 2010 22:43:13 GMT
Spilsbury says:
Unlike the first reviewer who gave this good review a negative mark, i would say thankyou for your effort. Persia and Iran have been historically overlooked due mainly to the bias of Western scholars to Semitic culture, in particular the Arabists have done an excellent job in conspiring to cover up this supremely sophisticated culture. Never mind, Iran is an Empire of the mind, and who can conquer such a space?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2013 19:40:37 BDT
Sam says:
But, the last time I checked, Iran and Iranians are of non-Semitic culture.
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