Hooman Majd, born in Tehran but educated in the West has written a book that is simultaneously from an insider perspective as well as from an outsider...moreHooman Majd, born in Tehran but educated in the West has written a book that is simultaneously from an insider perspective as well as from an outsider perspective. His father was an Iranian diplomat, but Hooman Majd is now a US citizen.
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 also an Ayatollah) he was granted access to a lot of places and people that others probably wouldn't have been able to get to. He also did a lot of "man on the street" type research as well attending things like the Ashura festival and just talking to regular Iranians on the street.
I found it an interesting mix of personal story/travelogue, general history and journalism with a dash of reflection and interpretation/analysis thrown in.
In addition to discussing heavy topics like Iran's nuclear program, he also discusses things like the Islamic Republic's ban on their politicians wearing neckties. We also see things many Westerners know little about, such as the high walls surrounding Iranian homes that give them a great measure of privacy and freedom to do what they want behind closed doors with little to no outside interference.
Of course, he discusses the political feeling in the country and the Islamic form of government versus liberal democracy and the old revolution and discusses what he feels people there want, namely more social freedoms and not liberal democracy.
The book is a great look at a country we hear a lot about, but don't know very much about. Though a lot of it is anecdotal, there's a lot of big picture stuff too. Majd has done a great job of showing his love for the country of his birth as well as for his adopted homeland...that's what makes him the perfect person to write this book.(less)
This is the third Kapuściński book I've read...the others being The Emperor and Shah of Shahs. The two previous ones were about specific people (Hai...moreThis is the third Kapuściński book I've read...the others being The Emperor and Shah of Shahs. The two previous ones were about specific people (Haile Selassie and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi respectively) while this one covers wars and revolutions in a variety of places on four continents. The bulk of the book is spent in Africa with quite a bit about the Congo and Patrice Lumumba, but also a lot about Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, etc.
Then it's off to Central America for the "Soccer War" between El Salvador and Honduras. That 100 hour war might have been triggered because of events surrounding a soccer game, but it wasn't at all about soccer (as Kapuściński explains in detail.)
Towards the end of the book Kapuściński tells about his travels in Cyprus and Syria and the wars he saw there too.
Kapuściński had to have experienced more in this life than 100 people put together have. I look forward to reading the rest of his books eventually.(less)
A gorgeous book full of color photographs, illustrations and reproductions of Persian miniatures and calligraphy. There is much to be learned from the...moreA gorgeous book full of color photographs, illustrations and reproductions of Persian miniatures and calligraphy. There is much to be learned from the text as well. Though I'm admittedly ignorant to the intricacies of Persian music, I fell in love with it as an art form about a decade ago and have seen performers such as the renowned singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian in concert.
I felt like the text helped me to expand my knowledge on the subject. The frequent comparisons to other styles of music (Indian, Arabic, Azerbaijani, etc.) helped me get a better frame of reference for some things being discussed as I'm more familiar with some of those styles of music (particularly Indian music.) (less)
This book was actually primarily authored by Aristeides Papadakis (I think Meyendorff was either a contributor or editor of the series.)
The story of t...moreThis book was actually primarily authored by Aristeides Papadakis (I think Meyendorff was either a contributor or editor of the series.)
The story of the Great Schism is (in English anyway) almost exclusively told from the Western perspective. This much needed volume attempts to balance those accounts with the story being told from the Eastern perspective. A great read. One of my favorite history books ever.(less)
Fantastic stuff here. I've really been getting into Sacco's work lately. You know you've written a heck of a series of hard-hitting comic books when E...moreFantastic stuff here. I've really been getting into Sacco's work lately. You know you've written a heck of a series of hard-hitting comic books when Edward Said is doing the introduction.(less)
Interesting story of the Bnei Sakhnin soccer team in the Israeli Premier League. Sakhnin is a team comprised primarily of Arab Israelis (though there...moreInteresting story of the Bnei Sakhnin soccer team in the Israeli Premier League. Sakhnin is a team comprised primarily of Arab Israelis (though there are Jewish Israelis as well as international players on the team.) Needless to say, the ethnic makeup of the team gets them a lot of attention (both good and bad.) The book follows them over the course of a few seasons including their winning a Cup competition as well as barely avoiding relegation. The authors go into the homes of players as well as supporters and team executives. An intriguing look at how sport can sometimes accomplish what politics cannot.(less)