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Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem Through the Islamic Revolution

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,651 ratings  ·  202 reviews
An intimate and honest chronicle of the everyday life of Iranian women over the past century

“A lesson about the value of personal freedom and what happens to a nation when its people are denied the right to direct their own destiny. This is a book Americans should read.” —Washington Post

The fifteenth of thirty-six children, Sattareh Farman Farmaian was born in Iran in 1921
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published 1992)
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Leslie yes.it really gives you a personal glimpse into an "innocent bystander's" life during a tumultuous time.When change is going all around them and there…moreyes.it really gives you a personal glimpse into an "innocent bystander's" life during a tumultuous time.When change is going all around them and there is nothing to do but have an experience because there is nothing she could have done.Maybe her being a woman in that country at that time had something to do with that fact.It is not propaganda;just an experience.(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Daughter of Persia, Sattareh Farman Farmaian
Sattāreh Farmānfarmā'iān (December 23, 1921 – May 23, 2012), also Sattareh Farman-Farmaian, was one of the daughters of Persian nobleman Abdol Hossein Mirza Farmanfarma of the Qajar dynasty. Tells a fascinating tale of growing up in the 1930s in a Persian harem compound in Tehran. Breaking with Muslim tradition, she became an independent woman and found herself arrested as a counterrevolutionary. A dramtic window on Iran's journey through the twentieth
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Aubrey
“You know that isn’t right,” I screamed. “If you and your men are God-fearing and religious, you have to help the weak, regardless of what those poor women do for a living! You’re supposed to protect people in danger, no matter who the government is!”
Tomorrow begins the first batch of the classes that need finishing before I return to UCLA. Thus far, only one has made its required reading explicit, and with a title such as 46A British Writers: Medieval to Renaissance, it is obvious which phy
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W
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a fabulous book.It is the story of one woman but is also a journey through Iranian history ,from the Qajar and Pehalvi dynasties to the chaos of the 1979 revolution.

Sattareh Farman Farmaian tells the story of her life growing up in her father's harem and all the adversity that befell him.He was a prince of the Qajar dynasty,with multiple wives and innumerable children.They all lived in one compound.He was already an old man,when the author was born.

Very ununsually for her time,the author
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Louise
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: iran, biography
Through this book you experience dictatorship, democracy, dictatorship (again) and revolution through the life of Sattareh Farman Farmian. She was born in an andarun (a sub-compound within a harum) in 1921. Her father was a prince of the (former) Qajar dynasty; he had 38 other children by 8 wives; 9 by her mother.

There is a wonderful portrait of life in the andarum. The patriarch’s first wife selected her mother as her husband’s third wife because she was 12 years old, meek, patient, not noble a
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Bob Newman
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, iran
top drawer lady brings social work to Iran

Sattareh Farman Farmaian was born the year that her family, the royal Qajars, gave way to a new dynasty in Persia (Iran). She grew up in luxury, with a father who believed in education for girls. As time passed, the new rulers, the Pahlavis, made things hard for the old guard. Still, picnics in the mountains, connections to all important people, and plum jobs for the brothers and cousins signify their elite position. Along with her personal story, the au
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Ann
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned a LOT about the culture and 20th century history of Iran. This book clarified my formerly vague understanding of how the CIA's meddling in Iran contributed to our current dismal non-relationship. Sattareh Farman Farmaian is an amazing woman! Born into a (pre-Reza Pahlavi) aristocratic family, she comes to the U.S. for college and then decides to establish the field of social work in her own country, which she does almost single-handedly. Her family's extensive connections help her to b ...more
Jennifer Jacobs
A wonderful book!
No other words can describe the book other than those!It's a very beautifully written book by a lady from a very high ranking family of Iran!What makes this book so special is how the book describes life in Iran during 3 time periods,before 1979 under Shah,the chaos during 1979 and life after 1979!The chapter about how she met Ayatollah Khomeini's men was especially harrowing!And I luved that part of the book the most:)
The author is from a very well known family of Iran,her fath
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Brian Griffith
I'm really glad to have found this book. It's a clearly written memoir of an authentically noble woman. Her writing seems to convey the vast beauty and pain of Iran through the twentieth century. Farman Farmaian was one of the legions of Persian women who laid the foundations of education and social support for women and children in the modernizing age. She was one of the real spiritual leaders of Iran, whose life work changed the nation in ways that can hardly be reversed.
Jolene Monheim
May 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I learned a lot about Iran... and of the courage and integrity of the woman who wrote this book. I found her and emailed her my appreciation of her work and I heard back from her! wow -
Sharon
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, quite frankly, one of the most fascinating memoirs I have ever read.

Sattareh Farman Farmaian was born the year Reza Shah (father of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the ousted Shah of Iran) came to power. Born into one of Iran's noble families, she led a privileged life. However, because of her family's beloved servants, Farmaian was exposed to the squalor in which the majority of her country lived. She became determined to do something to help.

After studying abroad to become a social worker, Fa
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Pari
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have read my fair share of books about Iran, both fiction and non-fiction. After completing "Daughter of Persia," I have to rank this book in the top three books about Iran, right up there with "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and "Iran Awakening."

Ms. Farman Farmaian does an excellent job detailing the political events of Iran from pre-Mossadegh to the revolution from the point of view of someone who was moderate and fairly removed from politics. It is an interesting take on events in Iran, viewed f
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Cathyb
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
In this heartfelt autobiography, Ms. Farman-Farmaian provides us with a personal account of Persian history and culture. The book chronicles her life experiences – as a young girl born into an aristocratic Qajar family to an adult woman who founded social work in Iran and was then forced into exile in order to survive. The writing is clear, wonderfully descriptive and contains a smattering of the Farsi language. It is amazing that after all she has been through that she is able to provide a fair ...more
Jennifer Jacobs
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book!
No other words can describe the book other than those!It's a very beautifully written book by a lady from a very high ranking family of Iran!What makes this book so special is how the book describes life in Iran during 3 time periods,before 1979 under Shah,the chaos during 1979 and life after 1979!The chapter about how she met Ayatollah Khomeini's men was especially harrowing!And I luved that part of the book the most:)
The author is from a very well known family of Iran,her fath
...more
Alexander Polsky
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
A remarkable life -- Sattareh Farman-Farmaian (who died in 2012) was born into medieval feudalism, grew up with a modernizing despotism of the Shah, and fled the ferocious obscurantism of the Iranian Revolution.

Smart, well read, and with courage, her book makes one more than a little sad, its the "what Iran could have been"; however there is some bright side in that its what Iran still might be.

Its politically difficult for anyone to swallow, which makes me like the author all the more. She was
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Rebecca altman
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
What a fabulous book and insight into a new perspective. I got a hold of this book when my husband who is getting his masters in social work brought this home as the read for one of his classes. Of course I read it in a couple of days and wanted to discuss it in full with him. It is a great book about a womans journey in a land where women dont have voices. She goes to America and receives a degree in California as one of the first to do so and then goes home and starts an unbelievable program f ...more
Simeon Kohlman Rabbani
This is a hauntingly beautiful account, not only of one woman's life story, but of the 20th-century history of Iran. It traces the rise and fall of Shahs, princes, and political movements, all as a tapestry through which the thread of Sattareh Farman Farmaian's remarkable life is woven. It is an absolutely essential background to understanding the current political turmoil in Iran and it gives powerful insights into Persian culture and the mindset and outlook of the Iranian people.

I only gave i
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Charlotte
Fascinating first hand account of a woman raised by a political leader in Iran. Her relationship with her father, mother, and the rest of the harem. Also their personal upheavals during war and how she introduced social work to the country. Quite an interesting life.
Jyotsna Agrawal
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is nice to know the Iran history and struggle of a woman to do something good.
Hamideh
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is no need to search into fairy tales to find an angle or a super-human. By looking around, you might find someone who sacrifices to boost humanity.
Usually, I don't like a biography. However, this one is something else. You can have an overview of the contemporary history of Iran from a civilian, well-educated, innovative, strong women's points of view.
She was raised in a very conservative family and society, in a chaotic and turbulent era; hence she managed to withdraw herself and many o
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Evin Ashley
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
The first part of the book, describing Satti's childhood, was an utter phantasmagoria of penmanship. I am admittedly infatuated with Persian and Levantine culture; it oozes out of the book's aura and pores. I found both the sophistication of her prose (translated by Dona Munker) incredibly intoxicating and sumptuous.

The book sometimes reads as the story of a woman writing her legacy and perhaps clearing her name to an extent, given the murky world and various shadows of political subversion ramp
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Suzanne
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Having always been a fan of biographies and historical non-fiction, I especially enjoyed this book. Not only did I enjoy the main character, Sattareh Farman Farmaian, a fascinating person in her own right, having been raised by a father who was very forward thinking for his time, and pursuing a life that was unheard of in her country, but I learned a lot about the history of Iran(Persia) and the extent of American involvement in their politics. If nothing else, this book will give you insight in ...more
Catriona Macaulay
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: iran
Fascinating history of before, during and after the Fall of the Shah by the "mother of social work" in Iran. The historical material on pre-Revolution Iran and her life as one of the many sons and daughters of a wealthy Persian patriarch is interesting but the account really comes into its own when the Shah's fall begins.
Nicole
May 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly fascinating book on the life of such a young girl growing up in the Middle East. This book really opened my eyes to a lot that I previously didn't understand or know at all. It's a deep-read and took me quite some time to get through but I highly recommend it.
Lora
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
A good read--especially when read against her brother's account which I'll also post.
Karen
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Loved this book! Hugely increased my knowledge of the region. The woman's courage and determination are unbelievable.
Winter Sophia Rose
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Enlightening, Moving, Fascinating & Heartwarming! A Powerful Journey! I Loved It; ...more
Holly
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
With all the buzz about "fake news" lately, one of the things that struck me about this book was the author's comments about what was REALLY HAPPENING in Iran to her, her clients, and her family juxtaposed against what the Western press was reporting about those same events in Iran. I was 10 when the Iran Hostage Crisis happened and I have a memory of watching the news with my parents and seeing what looked to me like some kind of scary war movie on the screen--wild-eyed men with fuzzy faces dre ...more
Annette
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To say that I was educated by this book is an understatement. Though Sattareh makes it quite clear that this is a personal view, and the beginning of the memoir perhaps unreliable remembrances from childhood, I was often drawn to check her recollections and to me they seem valid. We are reaping the rewards today of the persistent meddling of the colonial powers in the Middle East. Into the vacuum created when first the British and then the Americans manipulated control of Iran and its oil , thro ...more
Jean Tucker
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After the American presidential election of 2016 led to great shock to over half of the electorate in the U.S., a young friend suggested on Facebook that we read Daughter of Persia about a woman who had lived through upheavals and changes in her own country, living a life of hope and service in difficult circumstances. This book did not disappoint. It was interesting from start to finish. Sattareh Farman Farmaian documents her amazing life growing up in the family of a prince or shazdeh who had ...more
Rosie Crawford
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book that tells the journey of one Muslim woman from her native Iran through the years. Born at a time when girls weren't often educated at all, she was fortunate to have a father who encouraged her even though she was the third child of his third wife and who was a traditional Iranian of the upper echelon. He managed to maintain most of his status through huge changes in power in Iran, and was wealthy enough to send his sons away to school in England or the U.S. When Sattereh wante ...more
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Sattāreh Farmānfarmā'iān (1921 – 23 May 2012; Persian: ستاره فرمانفرمائیان‎) was one of the daughters of Persian nobleman Abdol Hossein Mirza Farmanfarma of the Qajar dynasty.

In addition to her autobiography, Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem through the Islamic Revolution (1992), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, she published "Social Work as Social Development
...more

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