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My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  382 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
My Prison, My Home is the harrowing true story of Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari’s arrest on false charges and subsequent incarceration in Evin Prison, the most notorious penitentiary in Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Esfandiari’s riveting, deeply personal, and illuminating first-person account of her ordeal is the inspiring tale of one woman’s triumph over interrogation, ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Ecco (first published 2009)
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*•.♥.•*  Fleur Rebelle *•.♥.•*
He would raise my hopes, then come back and apologize. A new "hurdle" had arisen, he would say; there was a gereh - "a knot" - to untie. Given all these knots, I thought, we could have woven a whole Persian carpet. ^_^
Melinda Elizabeth

My Prison, My Home, is a glimpse into the two worlds that Haleh lives in. Her discussion of her time as a prisoner in Iran is sensitive and calmly told, but there’s also a feeling that she’s holding back a little bit – rightly so, as though there is still a fear that she could be again held prisoner by her home country.

The paranoia and suspicions of the government and a culture of disagreement with the US leads the way for Haleh to be held on flimsy intimations of working with the CIA and secre
Sep 01, 2010 Alicia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was good for those (like me) who get depressed when they hear so much about the oppressions of the Middle East, but still feel like they should know *something* and be informed about the history of our relationship with that part of the world. The author does a great job of laying out why things are so tense between Iran and the U.S. and how things need to change.

She also talks quite a bit about the government of Iran, and why you are able to be held by one department while the another
Mar 31, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have the privilege of working to some extent with the author, whom I met as part of my work, before knowing of this amazing personal story. What she does is to weave between her family's history in Iran, the tragedy of the Islamic Republic and its failed relationships with the West, and her bizarre and frightening experience imprisoned for 106 days as a purported spy. The pieces that are most successful or her own narrative in the background of her family. Unfortunately the telling of Iranian ...more
Ms. Online
Oct 21, 2009 Ms. Online is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Nikki Keddie

Review of My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran
By Haleh Esfandiari
Ecco Books

Esfandiari's profoundly moving memoir goes beyond the limited story suggested in its subtitle to interweave a vivid autobiography and a brief history of Iran before and after the 1978–79 revolution. Potential readers should not be put off by fear of a depressing tale of horror; this is, above all, a story of faith—in the human capacity to withstand mistreatment and in what people
Perry Whitford
Feb 14, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Visiting her mother over the Christmas holidays of 2006, Iranian-American intellectual Haleh Esfandiari was subjected to a staged robbery at knifepoint, months of harassment from the Intelligence Ministry while waiting for a new passport, and eventual imprisonment and interrogation for more than one hundred days.

Her chief interrogator, a constantly smirking individual named Ja'fari, alleges that through her work as director of the Woodrow Wilson Centre's Middle East Program she is part of a conc
May 06, 2010 DubaiReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2010
A touching story but too much detail.

Iranian American, Haleh Esfandiari was wrongly accused of spying for America, against Iran, and imprisoned for 105 days in the notorious Evin prison. She had made America her home and raised a family there with her Jewish husband, Saleh. She had been working as a teacher and advisor, endeavouring to improve understanding between the two countries.
Haleh, aged 69, was on a routine visit to her Austrian mother, still living in Iran (her Iranian father had passed
Jan 28, 2010 Tanja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I really enjoyed reading this book. I am actually considering assigning parts of it to my students; Mrs. Esfandiari has managed to convey the rather complicated and complex history of American Iranian relations in a concise, informative and engaging manner. These historical sections are interspersed in her story -- from the initial robbery of her travel documents, to her interrogations, her eventual arrest and incarceration in Evin Prison, and finally her release. She did not spare in details an ...more
Morninglight Mama
Reading this memoir, I could hear the author's voice in my head simply telling me her story. As she shares her own life experiences leading up to her 8-month detainment in Iran, she seamlessly weaves in historical context, explaining the socio-political climates in Iran over the last three decades. This was particularly notable for me specifically because it never sounded like a history lesson, and it was consistently accessible for those of us who are not as politically saavy or worldly as othe ...more
Jul 01, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haleh Esfandiari had many resources going for her that the majority of women in Iran do not. Her education, her partial European heritage, her incredibly strong role models, her family's relatively high social status and the support of a large, intelligent and well-connected academic community rallied round her enough to allow her to endure her ordeals. Still, her description of what she had to do to survive the interrogations, the restrictions, the eventual imprisonment that came following a sh ...more
Aug 08, 2009 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born in Iran, Haleh Esfandiari and her husband left Iran when the Islamist regime rose to power. In turns this is the story of Haleh's life in Iran (and in exile) and the chilling months spent detained and interrogated regarding her humanitarian work, that started in Iran before leaving and then with international organizations and foundations to promote mid-east/western understanding and womens' rights. Nicely edited, the story is not chronological but flows well as the story of her incarcerati ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's tragic that there's a new genre of book about being imprisoned in Iran, but after reading Roxanna Saberi's account of her ordeal, I wanted to check out Haleh Efandiari's story. While these two women come from very different places, their stories are surprisingly similar -- from their love of the country and people of Iran to the horrible treatment they received at the hands of the country's current leaders.

In some ways, the stories aren't even about Iran -- they're about power and abuse of
Dec 18, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
How does one survive incredible uncertainty and lack of control at the hands of a government? Haleh shares her ordeal in trying to return to the United States after visiting her mother in Iran. Robbed on her way to the airport, she soon concludes this was not a random event. The book explores how she was able to survive multiple interrogations as well as solitary confinement before being able to leave Iran. I was impressed as Haleh discusses how she was able to keep her composure and not deviate ...more
Dec 11, 2009 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of an Iranian-American harassed and then imprisoned by the Islamic regime in Iran. At first there are no charges - she actually believes her first attack was an ordinary mugging. She must withstand lengthy solitary confinement and tremendous psychological pressure. It is interesting that she still seems to feel somewhat defensive about Iran, appearing to take offense when George W. Bush groups Iran in the "Axis of Evil." This despite her experiencing firsthand just what he was talking ...more
May 26, 2011 Jb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s ludicrous to think that goons of the Islamic Republic of Iran thought they could intimidate a 67-year-old grandmother to confess that she was instigating a revolution. But that’s what they tried. Incarcerated in the notorious Evin prison, she wasted away physically under intense questioning. Although born in Iran, she later became an American citizen and friends gained international support to protest her unjust arrest. After four months she was released to return to the U.S. She recounts h ...more
Jan 09, 2010 Blaise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am interested in the country of Iran, I've read other books about peoples lives there and the whole Iranian revolution and how that went down is sort of fascinating to me.
Anyway, Esfandari is a good writer, she tells her story (which is messed up!) interweaving it with the some of the history of modern Iran, the Iran revolution and the changing relationship between the United States and Iran over the years.
Donna Nix
Read this after finishing Roxana Saberi's book. They are very similar in terms of their prison and interrogation experiences. Saberi's focuses almost entirely on the prison story, this is more of a memoir covering her life and career. As such, it is dry in places, but worth the read for someone interested in the political and social developments in Iran since the time of the Shah.
Feb 02, 2013 Pattie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read! Haley Esfandiari's account of her love for her country and sadness of where they are today was told so eloquently through her account of her ordeal. She did an outstanding job of weaving in history so the reader could really understand more of how Iran has shaped into who they unfortunately are today. I t never felt like blaming to me, just explaining. Highly recommend!
Apr 13, 2015 Penne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I met Haleh when she was visiting. She is an amazing woman. Her book is well written and tells of her experience with being taken prisoner while visiting her mother in her homeland. How it felt to be in prison, day to day and not knowing what would happen to her. Inspirational to read about how strong your spirit can be to get you through really tough times.
This was a quick read; the details of her traumatic interrogation were gripping and apolitical. I was, however, concerned that this book might veer into a political narrative when I saw the cover (I really hate the cover, the shadowy veiled woman, and the imprisonment allusions applied to Muslim women in Muslim countries). She spared me all of that, thankfully.
Dec 12, 2009 Rita marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
MS. review says this memoir is moving and not depressing even tho describing prison experience in detail..
'She favors dialog and negotiation [with iran:] and sees US support for subversive activities as counterproductive'

Her 1997 book 'Reconstructed lives: women and Iran's Islamic Revolution' 'was well received' too.
Nov 29, 2010 Chade66 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" it was interesting to read a book written by one of Nasfisi's students. She does a good job of mixing in the necessary political and military history into a personal narrative, giving you a good overview of what was happening and how things got to the point that it did. A much easier read than "Winter in Kabul".
This is a story about a woman who is held prisoner for many months in Iran while she is visiting her mother. The psychological turmoil they put her through was awful. It's amazing how this woman endured the ordeal at her age. I did find some of her writing a bit dry. Included was also a lot of historical content. The book did help me understand the political situation though.

Aug 27, 2010 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book about a woman's ordeal with the Iranian secret police and Evin Prison was decent but somehow kept me at arm’s length and I never did get really engaged. The part I enjoyed most was the background story of how her family adapted to changes in Iran over the years.
Jan 10, 2010 Angelica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story of incarceration in Evin, Tehran. Is also woven with a history of Iran's revolution and US relations. I learned so much that puts news of Iran into context. I highly recommend to anyone interested.
Jul 08, 2010 Hali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book makes me grateful to be living in the U.S. I was amazed at how the Iranian government questioned and then took Haleh Esfandiari to prison. She's one tough cookie. Haleh Esfandiari has written this book in a style that is easy to read.
Andrew Griffith
Oct 09, 2012 Andrew Griffith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haleh Esfandiari’s My Prison My Home is a powerful story of her imprisonment and interrogation in Iran, and her integrity, discipline and strength of character that allowed her to be one of the few who emerged with her dignity intact.
This book is well written, but a difficult read. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. Esfandiari is a very strong woman to have gone though the interrogations and prison. I recommend this book to those wanting to understand more about the Iranian government.
Journalistic memoir that mixes personal narrative with the political and military history of Iran. I was really touched by Esfandiari's story and her perseverance, and I felt like I was much more well informed about Iran and the country's political history.
Jan 11, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While any story of a wrongly-imprisoned individual is disheartening, this memoir is unique in that you can sense the inner strength, resilience, and, quite frankly, stubbornness of Haleh in her journey towards freedom and returning to the USA. A memorable read that certainly makes you think.
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Haleh Esfandiari is a distinguished Iranian-American public intellectual. The founding director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, she is the former deputy secretary general of the Women’s Organization of Iran and has taught at Princeton University. She has worked in Iran as a journalist and is the author of Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran’s Islamic Revolution and My Prison, M ...more
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