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The Soul of Iran: A Nation's Struggle for Freedom Paperback – 14 Oct 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Rev. Ed edition (14 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393325970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393325973
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 757,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"No book compares with [this one] to give a feel for contemporary Iran.... Simultaneously engaging and profoundly depressing."

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an updated version of Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran (Hardcover)

by Afshin Molavi . An additional chapter has been added to cover the most recent political changes.

An excellent book giving good all round information on Iran today, its history and culture. (see reviews for Persian Pilgrimages).
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Format: Paperback
Couldn't have learnt more! This is a great book about the history of Iran including political and economic conditions, the public opinion about the mullahs and the rest, the US or the rest of the world. It explains what Iranians think about the religion, politics, economy of the country.Basically, It deals with everything! The author also explains his personal opinions; everything is well expressed, sometimes too detailed but it's also OK. From A to Z, you can find everything about Iran and its people in this book. (regardless some contradictions)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x90ae230c) out of 5 stars 23 reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9099ed50) out of 5 stars Better than Pilgrimages! Read it twice 24 Oct. 2005
By Rostam125 - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was excited to see this book in the store because I had read Persian Pilgrimages, the hardback version, and had heard that an updated version was in the works. I'm not sure if I agree with the publisher's decision to change the title to Soul of Iran (I think Persian Pilgrimages is more poetic), but the author, Molavi, delivers us more of his compelling and insightful narrative about his travels in Iran. What I like most about this work is the author's ability to weave history, politics, culture, and personal stories into a very nice narrative. He is also refreshingly honest and unbiased. His extensive interviews with the poor and the war veterans shows that he didnt only spend his time with rich, westernized Iranians. The new chapter -- his visit to the shrine of Dr Mossadegh -- is probably his best in teh whole book. In fact, I was disapointed that he didnt include a Mossadegh pilgrimage in the original, but he more than makes up for it here. This is simply a great book. As an Iranian-American who lived through the revolution and is frustrated by the American media's simplistic depictions of Iran, I think this book offers a far more sophisticated analysis of Iranian life than any other work out there. But the author doesnt take any sides. He explains things, but doesnt try to push an agenda. All those interested ib learning about the realities of an important country in the Middle East should pick up this book. And read it twice - as I did!
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9099eda4) out of 5 stars A Must Read for All Americans 1 Nov. 2005
By BangkokDave - Published on
Format: Paperback
As confrontation heats up with Iran, every American should read this book. You'll find everything in it: history, politics, culture, ordinary Iranian lives. After reading this book, I truly felt like I could interpret some of the news headlines that come out of Iran (and I knew virtuallly nothing about the place before reading it).

With each page, I learned something new and the author clearly knows his stuff. He also seems like a decent and humane person, which is important when you spend so much time traveling with him (vicariously, through 350 pages). He takes you to all of the great Iranian cities, describes important moments in Iranian history, and gives you a sense of what Iranians are thinking today based on his wide travels across the country. I like the fact that this book is not Tehran-centric because I often find in my own travels (I've backpacked across southeast Asia) that the views in the capital are different than the views oustide.

Iran had often confused me because, on the one hand, I read about democracy movements and young people longing for an American-style life and, on the other hand, I see images of Death to Israel and Death to America chanting crowds. This book explores both of those worlds and shows that, on the whole, Iranians are more frustrated with their own government than they are with America or anyone else. But it also shows how nationalist Iranians can be and his interviews with war veterans shows us that there is still some fight left in them in the case of a war with America.

Our media does a terrible job of covering Iran, so we have to rely on books like these to learn something deeper. This book should be read by all of our policy-makers.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90b017c8) out of 5 stars Zendebad Iran! 30 Sept. 2005
By D. A. Kelley - Published on
Format: Paperback
Overall, a great book. It was well worth the time spent reading it. 'Soul of Iran' gives you a better understanding of Iranian politics, the countries internal conflicts, and a look into the lives/culture of everyday Iranians. I would highly recommed this book to someone looking for an honest portrayal of modern day, real life Iran.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9099f048) out of 5 stars Profile of Tragic and Beautiful Country 20 Nov. 2005
By TheMysticMasseur - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best political travel books I've read in a long time. The writing is superb, with flashes of real brilliance, and the history is sweeping and comprehensive. This book is like a front-row seat and a fly-on-the wall experience as Molavi travels throughout Iran, explaining everything from architecture to politics to Persian poetry. In the end, you come away feeling both hopeful and sad. Iran is really a tragic place. Iranians have so much potential, but they have been abused by Shahs, mullahs, the CIA and others. In this book, Molavi ably shows the beauty of Persian culture and the corruption of Iranian politics. As someone who grew up in Delhi, I was always fascinated by Iran because of its influence on Mughal India. What most attracted me in this book, however, was not the history, but the characters we meet in the journey, which gives us a glimpse into ordinary Iranian lives. The one flaw: while the writing is mostly superb, as I said, it is inconsistent. There are places where he falters, especially when delivering long chunks of history. Still, this is just simply a great book.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9099f288) out of 5 stars Everything I Have to Say Was Already Said: 10 Mar. 2006
By Susan C. Bentler - Published on
Format: Paperback
Read the review below this one.

Nothing expresses the stark reality of the situation in Iran better than Asfin Molavi's books and the sentiments of the reviewer, "Persian Princess."

If anything, this book will highlight how assumptions made by most Americans are woefully simplistic when it comes to the richness, tenacity, and creativity of the Iranian people, including their love for the West. (BTW, I'm not Iranian, but sometimes when I have a good kabob, I wish I were.)

We had best get over our irrational fear and start focusing on what lies under the veil of rhetoric, both here and in Iran. Bravo to Mr. Molavi for highlighting the truth through the eyes of ordinary Iranians, who not only struggle to be heard above the filter of a fundamentalist regime, but also struggle to be perceived as they truly are by Western media. Read this book and gain an unexpected education. Then, do not pass go and pick up Molavi's other book.

Where are the critics, pundits and talking heads? They should be all over this author. . .
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