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Neither East Nor West: One Woman's Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  157 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Fusing travelogue, historical inquiry, and interviews with Iranians from all walks of life, Neither East Nor West is a landmark contribution to travel writing and to cultural studies, as well as a timely illumination of a nation deeply misunderstood by most Westerners. In describing life in Iran today, Christiane Bird, an American who spent part of her childhood there, bre ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by Washington Square Press (first published 2001)
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Jul 19, 2010 S rated it it was ok
This book took me longer to read than any other book I have read in a very long time! I wanted to read this book because I love to read about Iran and to read a travel book written by an American Woman about Iran sounded very interesting to me but it was not one of those books that you cannot put down and because it is a travel guide book of sorts, it is a slower read. I like the book but that is because I am Iranian and all the details she offered about her travels were of interest but I cannot ...more
As a complement to Jason Elliott's book on Iran, I read Christiane Bird's Neither East Nor West: One Woman's Journey through the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was an excellent travelogue or safarnameh in Farsi. I liked it even better than Elliott's book because 1. it was from a woman's point of view (a huge distinction when talking about Iran) and 2. there were fewer in-depth ruminations on architecture.

Bird actually notes many similar observations to Elliott, but her experiences interacting with
Jan 17, 2009 Jackie rated it liked it
Very interesting book, but twice as long as it needed to be. Christiane returns to Iran where her family spent several years of her childhood. She is now a journalist, who is trying to figure out the culture and religion of present-day Iran and she comes up with enlightening perspectives. Contrary to western thought, Ayatollah Khomeini and his revolution are highly revered. Many women do feel protected by the cultural traditions of Iran. Christiane brings out the great literacy history of Persia ...more
Dec 20, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating. I really enjoyed looking at this fascinating country through Bird's eyes. I knew her politics before and wasn't sure she and I would be "fellow travelers" but I really enjoyed getting to know her through her perceptions of the people and places around her. She really seemed ready to experience while judging as little as possible, ready to believe that there were things she didn't understand but that this made them no less real, ready to wonder who was really right--or ...more
Apr 24, 2013 Iffat rated it it was ok
Either she deliberately seemed confused or was really confused, I couldn't tell. Either she herself had many complexes and didn't know what to feel or wasn't really sure if she should be feeling this way for the Iranians. One thing was clear though,the Muslim world has left a deep impact on Bird : ) to the point of pushing her out of her comfort and 'spiritual' zones. The West may also never understand what Hijab means to women. They actually might also understand but I guess are afraid of givin ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Anya rated it really liked it
This book was recommended by Mahbod Iraji (the author of Rooftops of Tehran) and I thought that since I loved his novel and my chances of traveling to Iran are non-existent at this time, I’d give a try to this travelogue. I was captivated by the personable narrations of Ms. Bird. She really did her best in being objective to a country that’s viewed by most Americans as one of the greatest evils in the world. Despite the fact that I understand now that Iran is a country of complex contradictions ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Lori rated it it was amazing
I finished this on the plane to Iran. The author returned to Iran for 3 months in 1998, traveling around the country, after having lived there for several years as a child. The book does a wonderful job of combining information about sites, descriptions of culture and interactions with the people, and historical background and context. It's long and has a leisurely pace, but that was what I was looking for. Great background for anyone traveling to Iran, or just curious about Iran.
Aug 06, 2015 Ellen rated it liked it
An appealing travelogue which will impress upon you the deep generosity of the people of Iran.
Matthew John
Mar 09, 2008 Matthew John rated it it was amazing
The thing I liked most about this book is the picture is provides of the Iranian people. Here in the US, we seem only to be able to deal with characatures -- a people must be either all good or all bad, and that opinion is usually based on our federal government's characterization of that people's government. This book shows that, just as our country is, the Iranian nation is both varied and beautiful.
Nader Rafiei
Jul 26, 2010 Nader Rafiei rated it it was amazing
A great travelogue which is written really fantastic,
in some part of this book you can even imagine yourself in situations.
But I think the conclusion of this book is not perfect.
the writer wanted readers to conclude two different side of Iran.
But I myself Liked to figure out the Writer's opinion about iran.
Mar 12, 2007 Erikka rated it liked it
I am in the process of reading this travelogue. The author does a great job of blending travel, history, and culture with both an objective and personal voice. This would be a good way for people to learn about tradition and values, and debunk any stereotypes American news has created about Iranians.

Jan 24, 2010 Victoria rated it really liked it
Recommended to Victoria by: sarahntastic
Suffers American "go it alone" approach. Trust/reliance would have added dimension. She appears to fear it would overwhelm her perceptions, rather than add to them. However, good job in short time span/more reflection than expected. Note similarities w/Soviet Xianity.
Sep 09, 2013 Aim-ish rated it it was amazing
This was a really engrossing, informative, and enlightening description of a series of personal encounters in the Islamic Republic. It's full of insight from many different Iranian perspectives reported by the author. It's fascinating and easy to read.
Jun 05, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, iran, memoir
This book was extreamly GREAT. I really loved it from start to finish. I feel like I was privledged to a very in-depth look into Iran. Fascinating. Great writing.
Aug 30, 2009 Nessa rated it it was amazing
Currently reading it and loving it SOOO much! Great franky style- very enjoyable!
May 25, 2015 Toni rated it liked it
This book was great for religious history: differences between shia and sunni, Zoroastrians, great for Iranian culture, and all that. Her travelogue parts were a bit lengthy and dry. the chapters were average of 40 pages which makes it feel longer.
955.05 Bir
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