The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran
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
Like millions of other Americans, I am in the active process these days of increasing my knowledge base regarding the Middle East and Southeast Asia, from its former level of "zero" to a new level of "more than zero." But this of course immediately presents a problem to armchair scholars -- namely, with a ...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
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
For me, this was almost like reading an autobiography of myself from the perspective of a more witty, less religious, better connected person. A lot of the references were pretty funny, because I had experienced them myself and had many ...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
Refreshingly honest and funny, it's very well done. Learned a lot. Will recommend to anyone who's interested in the subject matter.
"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
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
To really understand the n ...more
So far, I love it.
The author is an American citizen and journalist but in addition, son of an Iranian diplomat, the grandson of an eminent ayatollah. Raised in the west, resident in New York City, fluent in Persian and maintaining familial ties with some of the Iran's power elite he is "both/and", and is perhaps uniquely able to translate Iran for us.
There are three or four Persian concepts he elaborates that stick in my ...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
This prelude needed ...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
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 has also written for GQ, Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker, T ...more