The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran
The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, now an American citizen, Hooman Majd is, in a way, both 100 percent Iranian and 100 percent American, combining an insider’s knowledge of how Iran works with a remarkable ability to explain its history and...more
Before I rip apart this book, let me first say I recommend it because it is an interesting, thoughtful analysis of the Iranian psyche.
Majd's writing style is maddeningly frustrating. I almost threw the book against the wall a half-dozen times during the first 100 pages. The man cannot write a simple sentence. An entire paragraph in this book may have one period, obviously...more
First, he talk about an interesting idea, that of "ta'arouf," or hospitality. This is a rough translation, because its more like polite chit-chat that one encounters with every transaction with another human being outside yo...more
I had the serendipity of reading this book in tandem with Deer Hunting With Jesus by Joe Bageant, and the comparison between fundamentalist Christians wit...more
Though Majd's stories provide a series of nice insights, I found Majd not as insightful or enlightening as he could have been. He explains a lot of the Iranian people's apparent contradiction in terms of ta'arouf (social etiquette), h...more
Hooman Majd, in his The Ayatollah Be...more
What results is a book that interprets recent events and people i...more
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there
This suggested to me that the book was not about to pass judgements on how US should approach Iran in terms of foreign policy. It was simply a book about observations.
With this is mind, I thought about what my perception of Iran was before I started to read the book. Following are the perceptions:
1. Ultra-Islamic society
2. Ultra conservative
As the cover states, this book takes a look at the paradox that is modern Iran. Tightly tied to Shia Islam, the country presents a modern face despite its strong sense of Islamic nationhood. The author is from a Iranian family with good connections. His maternal grandfather was an Ayatollah, and his father was a diplomat under the Shah. Majd intended to return and live in Iran when he finished...more
Very interesting, if a bit hard to follow. Majd is an American of Iranian background. Both his parents were born in Iran and Majd spent many summers there as he grew up and speaks fluent Farsi.
He writes, "I have based this book mostly on personal experience. In 2004 and 2005 I spent several week in Iran as a journalist, and in 2007 I spent almost two months living in Tehran....I have als...more
Interesting reading for anybody who wants to learn about the people behind the sound bites. I've found that if you read one book about Iran, say, "Reading Lolita in Tehran," you might think you know something about the country. Read three,...more
Unlike all the other books that I have read about Iran, this one was not a sweet story about growing up in Iran, spending most of one's years abroad and then returning as a strang...more
Iran tidak hanya tentang Ahmadinejad, hijab dan senjata nuklear kerana Hooman Majd membawa kita untuk menyelongkar Iran melalui pertemuannya daripada tokoh sebesar mantan Presiden Khatami hinggalah kepada pemandu teksi wanita.
Di kaki lima dan rumah bertembok besar, Hooman seolah-ola...more
When I first began this book, I was put off by what I thought were Hooman’s apologetics. I began composing a snarky...more
Iran for many Americans, myself included, is a black box with occasional outputs such as: "hostage crisis," "nuclear power," "Axis of Evil," and the "2009 elections." The Ayatollah Begs to Differ offers an illuminating glimpse into the inner workings of the only Shia theocracy in the world. Hooman Majd, the grandson of an Ayotollah and the son of an Iranian diplomant, is uniquely qualified to hold the torchlight as "100% Iranian and 100% American."
Some might not like the rambling style in which...more
"I thought of Fuad, my Jewish-Iranian friend from Los Angeles who had explained to me his perspective on Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial with no small measure of admiration for what he saw as the finest example of Persian ta'arouf one-upmanship. Ahmadinejad, Fuad reasoned, had in effect said to the Europeans...that he couldn't believe that Europeans had been or could be such monsters (and this at a time when Iran was being portrayed as monstrous). "You're not monsters," Ahmadinejad was s...more
So far, I love it.
Nevertheless, I learned quite a bit, in between cursing his prose.
In describing the locals, in sandals or suits, Majd has the air of an affluent couture-wearing Westerner. The details are culturally noteworthy, but the commentary is culturally ignorant.
But, I am neglecting the fact that regardless of the (inapplicable) title, this is really a memoir. This boo...more
Iranians are mostly moderate and harmless, which I understand and can relate to but, as far as nations go, individual points of view play no real part.
I liked very much the way that the concept of ta'arouf is explained, but again the author pounds on the key that the west has misunderstood Iranian behavior because of the inescapable urge to engage in ta'arouf... which is really just pushing it.
The unifying themes in this book are:
He traveled through Iran and across the US with various Iranian political figures and met with the likes of current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as former presidents like Mohammad Khatami. Because of Majd's family's history (his grandfather was a...more