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The Soul of Iran: A Nation's Struggle for Freedom
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The Soul of Iran: A Nation's Struggle for Freedom

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  172 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Iran thundered onto the world stage in 1979 with an Islamic revolution that shook the world. Today that revolution has gone astray, a popular democracy movement boldly challenges authority, and young Iranians are more interested in moving to America than in chanting "Death to America." Afshin Molavi, born in Iran and fluent in Persian, traveled widely across his homeland, ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 17th 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published October 2002)
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This was a pretty decent crash course in Iranian history & current affairs (says someone who is not an expert on either of those things). The cover (or one of the review/blurbs inside, I don't remember which) called this book "ambitious," and I agree. I'm not sure that it achieved all it wanted. After all, it's a really difficult thing to do to weave together ancient history, many political manuevers over the last 100+ years, popular culture, analysis of an entire country... The most skilled ...more
if you, along with a great deal of our generation, felt solidarity with the threatened, arrested, and otherwise hurt writers and protestors in the recent highly publicized crackdown of open press in Iran, but didn't do shit that might help anyone, save wearing more green or something, and also failed to grasp the larger issues of what was going on and what all this might say about Iran's past and hint to for her future, then this might be a read for you.

Moldavi has written an accessible, invitin
Like China Road, this book covers the ins and outs of a lot of people's daily views of life in Iran, right from the actual people, from both sides of the story, from conservatives to liberals. While it does sometimes retread concepts now and then, mainly when dealing with particular events (Usually the different revolutions) it generally stayed fresh enough to keep me interested, and only goes to show me that the general picture shown to you is often just bits and pieces taken out of context to ...more
I picked this up because I realized I knew nothing about Iran except the standard American media images from my childhood of hostages, Ayatollah Khomeini, flag-burnings, and angry men chanting "Death to America".

I don't think I could have picked a better book for my introduction to Iran. Molavi's writing style is conversational and engaging. As a student, I was fascinated by the history and the politics, but as an American I was equally fascinated by the conversations Molavi had with people he
Xue Yun
A really long book with small prints. Most of the book is about pre-revolution Iran with continuous repetition of certain main points. This book is a mixture of history, cultural analysis, journalist interviews, and just travel journals. With the repetition, a lot of different names made my head hurt a bit while reading, jointing down key points, and comprehending.

This book focuses more on the post-revolutionary 1979 Iran where the Iranians are suffering economically with their currency that us
my AP comparative government book gives me something to release my angst and anger. A Nation's Journey to Freedom: The Soul of Iran is its name and the author, Afshin Molavi is Iranian. I appreciate his passion for Iran, passionate enough to travel back to Iran and write a whole book about it, but can anything get anymore boring? He's a journalist...he needs to expose the conditions in Iran and the history of Iran! Why is he going out of his way to learn the real purpose of writing a piece of jo ...more
A total waste of time. Same typical stuff written by Iranian-Americans, apparently it doesn't matter which book you choose you will the same stereotypes all over. I expected reading a different account of the history and politics of Iran as the author is a Tabrizi (not a Tehrani as usual) and holds a master's degree in Middle East history from John Hopkins University.

His long explanations about the country's history are repetitions of the same old cliches, lacking any insight or real depth, tha
Jonathan Lu
Fantastically enlightening story from the open-minded and highly intelligent perspective of this journalist returning to his ancestral homeland. Equal parts historical, cultural, spiritual, and loaded with wit - follow Mr. Molavi on a journey of cultural understanding both historical and modern with classic pilgramages to the tombs of revered poets, as well as modern pilgramages by opportunity seeking engineers to the Canadian embassy in Damascus. Molavi's is exactly the perspective needed (and ...more
Though a bit dated, it gives an idea about Iran and its recent history, especially for the lay reader. The problem is, it is full of cliches and repetitions. After a certain point, you start guessing what the next sentence will be.
Arian Alana
This book is brilliantly written. The author manages to interweave stories from ancient Persia to Iran today and produce a beautiful intricate design. It is a mixture of travelogue, politics, history, and what I love more about it is that it also focuses on human side of the story. I think this book serves as a very comprehensive introduction to Iran (the history, the people, and the aspiration). It would be great to have voices and lives of ethnic or religious minority in Iran to be included in ...more
Though slightly less entertaining than Out of Mao's Shadow, Afsin Molavi also did a good job on both teaching and entertaining the reader. Originally, I thought Iran was a crazy, nuclear obsessed country tryin to destroy the United States. However, after reading Molavi's book, I realized the struggles the Iranian people must endure, especially the youth. Iran's history has always been complicated even to the people of Iran, but now I at least feel I have enough knowledge to discuss the topic wit ...more
Molavi was born in Iran but moved early to the US and has written for e.g. Washington Post and Financial Times so he is somewhat an outsider though he is familiar with the language, religion and culture of Iran. In this book, which is the updated version Persian Pilgrimages, he goes on pilgrimages to shrines of poets, politicians and historical and religious figures. And in doing so he creates a sympathetic and wonderfully readable view of modern Iran through his mixing of history and the storie ...more
This wasn;t my favorite book. It begins with the narrarator in an Iranian airport lurking around the libarary books. She constantly picks up information on Iran's regime in the past. I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers spearheaded a revolution that would change Iran's government forever. The Shah (king) would be replaced. Clerics would have political power as oppose to one absolute ruler. This amongst many other historical events that impacted the politics of Iran was essentially ...more
This non-fiction book was a TERRIFIC read. Very easy to follow. NOT a chronological history of Iran. Instead, the author goes on various pilgrimages throughout Iran and tells the back story of the person (usually a shah, a martyr, a a prime minister, etc) whose shrine he's visiting. He also talks with NUMEROUS current day (written in 2002) Iranians who give him their opinions on modern day Iran. Overall, I'd certainly recommend the book if you're interested in Iran, currently and historically.
Many valuable insights into the framework of thinking for Iran's people
Sam Norton
Very well done book. Initially I was a little disappointed to see that it was a political travelogue, but as I read on I realized that it was a good way to introduce the schisms within Iranian society. It seems very clear that but for a minority of conservative religious hardliners, Iran is a country inclined towards democracy. The question now becomes: what can the US do to responsibly encourage democracy in Iran?
Hong Deng
Although all the Iran terms for political figures, clerics, and Iranian places were overwhelming at first, the book offers great insight into the history of Iran and the various factors that led to the 1979 revolution. It was interesting for a comparative government student to see the similar ways both the Chinese and Iranian authoritarian states maintain their legitimacy.
Molavi is an Iranian who lives in the U.S. He travels to Iran & interviews Iranians from all walks of life. He also visits memorial shrines of past leaders, poets, & martyrs. He speaks fluent Farsi & Farsi words are scattered throughout this book. The history of Iran and the culture are examined by Molavi. An excellent book - one I would like to read again.
Tank Green
what a fantastic book! i really recommend this to anyone with even the faintest interest in iran.

it's a cross between travel writing, journalism and history and the author manages the amazing feat of fitting thousands of years worth of history into a fascinating, engaging and fun read.

highly recommended!
Equally sympathetic to both halves of the Iranian society. One of the most balanced and least prejudiced works by a young Iranian journalist that I have ever read.

I read the old version (lots of minor typos) and the new edition came out with an extra chapter and a new title (something about a soul!).
Excellent! I read a whole bunch of books on Iran to immerse myself before my 1st trip there. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Iran. The personal woven with the political - a great travelogue and a wonderful way to learn about a country, it's history and it's people.
Given my limited knowledge of Iran, I fully enjoyed the historical, literary, cultural and literal tour of Iran, often hoping that I could find English translations of the literary references, usually to no avail.
geraldo rivera
A wonderfully sensitive portrayal of present-day Iran. I love the way Molavi weaves in ancient & modern history, and current political struggles, along with portraits of the people he meets in his journeys.
Lots of people have tried to "explain" Iran -- I think this is the best of the lot. Part travelogue, part history, part colourful reportage, and beautifully written.
Dave Lyons
Brilliantly written & very human introduction to the history & people of Iran, told through their lives and stories
Agustinus Wibowo
one of my favorite travel writings of Iran, written from insider's perspective. honest n sharp.
Cyrus Carter
Excellent overview of the current complex social situation in Iran. Well-written and worth a read.
Mar 01, 2009 Frenje marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
Hmm, didn't quite make it past the first few chapters. Maybe another time...
An interesting foray into Iran.
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