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The Iranians: Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  172 ratings  ·  17 reviews
The Iranians explores Iran in the context of its old and complex culture, for throughout its history Iran has struggled with two warring identities-one evolving from the values, social organization, and arts of ancient Persia, the other from Islam. By examining the relationship between these two identities, The Iranians explains how the revolution of 1979 came about, why ...more
Paperback, 442 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Plume Books (first published 1996)
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Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mackey's account of Iran provides a comprehensive look into the psyche of a misunderstood country whose name is basically synonymous with anti-Americanism. Unlike her book about Saudi Arabia, Mackey didn't live in Iran for her reporting but her repeated visits there were enough to give her a thorough insight into country's history and politics. It's a tough read but a good choice to understand Iran's place in the Middle East and the world as a Shiia dominated state. The section about the Shah ...more
Jul 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-not-owned
An engaging history of Iran for a general American audience, focusing on the historical forces of Persian culture and the Islamic faith as they interact today. Things I learned from this book still come to mind constantly when I'm listening to news about Iran, and even Iraq and the wider region.
Tom & Beverly
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
very interesting a readable.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book makes me very sympathetic for the Iranian people. What an amazing history and proud heritage. What hardships, suffering, and tragedies from injustice and corruption. What great hopes for the future. Americans can also gain wisdom from Iran's past to help us better diagnose our current situation and chart a better future... I highly recommend this book. I need to read some more contemporary analyses now though, as this book was published 20 years ago.
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
The book covers the entire history of Persia/Iran in great detail, written by a very knowledgeable author with a great respect for the country, its culture and its people. That said, the book took me a really long time to get through. Some chapters keep going on and on, incessantly piling facts upon facts, events upon events, ... I'd prefer a bit more story telling - while of course still keeping to the facts.
Michael Norwitz
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mackey does a fairly deft job of covering a two thousand year history in four hundred pages, and gives a fair degree of insight to inhabitants of one of the most ancient nations in the world (although, being published in the early 90s, there is obviously much room for a second edition). I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in history or who seeks insight into the Middle East.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Every unjaundiced view of Iranian history and politics is welcome and this one is better than most.
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, iran
The book details the history of Iran from the first 'King of Kings', Cyrus the great, to the present. Particularly Mackey's insights in to contemporary Iran are clear, to the point and very good. A must read although some of her findings quickly became less relevant due to the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington and the subsequent attack of the US on Afghanistan.
Mackey claims that the US, with no clear 'enemy' after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, directs its hatred against
Carlos Alonso-Niemeyer
I read this book because the President of our company was Iranian and I wanted to learn more about this culture.
Great insights on the country and the culture. It does not provide the latests update on what is happening now, or the green revolution that they had a couple of years ago. However, great for book for people who want to learn about the Persian influence in this area.
Chantelle Moghadam
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a great and informative book about persian history from the persian empire to modern Iran. Though it was slow at times, Mackey is incredibly knowledgeable about the Middle East and her in-depth research and interviews with people who lived through the history really show through in this comprehensive history.
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not particularly scholarly but the anecdotes and generalizations were well within reason , especially having lived through the time of the Iranian Revolution here in the States. My big question was , does she speak or read Farsi, would go along way to establishing credibility
Saïdeh Pakravan
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
An impressive, knowledgeable, well researched and highly entertaining overview of the Iranians, their history, their complex psychology, their rich cultural diversity.
Dec 04, 2009 added it
Iran is a most certainly complex nation, religiously, politically and culturally. One of the most interesting and compelling nation/state histories I've read.
Ann Timmins
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I knew nothing about Iran and its people. They were highly educated and rich. It was very informative and of course full of history.
Marcelle Malillo maggio
Hard to get through.
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
An excellent overview of Iran's history, culture, and politics for the lay reader
Robert Schafer
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