For the last week of February, I made the following contribution to What Were Reading this Week on BookPeople's blog. Read the full post, which includes other selections by my fellow booksellers, here.
Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran by Laura Secor
“Earlier this year, I picked up an advanced reading copy of Laura Secor’s Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran. Of the many great reads in our Middle Eastern Studies section, this new release is especially important and timely given the Obama administration’s historic nuclear deal with Iran. This book focuses on the Iran’s history in the modern era. Through a series of bios of influential leaders and thinkers in Iran as well as ordinary citizens, Secor traces the intellectual and social underpinnings of the revolution of 1979 and the decades that have followed. Reoccurring themes that occur in the book are the Iranian people’s struggle to reconcile eastern and western ideas; modernity and religion; and national attachments that span millennia.
I am only about halfway through this book, and feel a great deal more informed about the events that have shaped where we are now in relations between Iran and the West. It got me looking after other books to open my eyes to our world. (Over the course of reading this book, I also finished Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, an eloquent and indelible portrait of another elusive place that has dominated our political discourse in recent years. It is also one of the best nonfiction books I have ever read.)
As for further reading on Iran, I recommend Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books or Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis. The strength of these two books is their great cultural sensitivity in telling the stories of extraordinary Iranian women who lived the events described in Secor’s book.” You can find copies of Children of Paradise on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.