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

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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 t 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 the Islamic Republic has failed, and how Iran today is on the brink of chaos. In this defining portrait of a troubled nation and the forces that shape it, Iranian history and religion become accessible to the nonspecialist. Combining impeccable scholarship with the human insight of firsthand observations, The Iranians provides vital understanding of this unique and pivotal nation. 


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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 t 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 the Islamic Republic has failed, and how Iran today is on the brink of chaos. In this defining portrait of a troubled nation and the forces that shape it, Iranian history and religion become accessible to the nonspecialist. Combining impeccable scholarship with the human insight of firsthand observations, The Iranians provides vital understanding of this unique and pivotal nation. 

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    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 an 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 and his torturers was shocking. That the United States supported such a man for decades in an effort to "fight communism" is shameful--both Iran and we are still paying the price for our ignorance today.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tom & Beverly

    very interesting a readable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janez

    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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Norwitz

    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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    William

    Every unjaundiced view of Iranian history and politics is welcome and this one is better than most.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Babak Fakhamzadeh

    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 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 Iran as the fundamentalist Satan in the world.

  9. 4 out of 5

    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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chantelle Moghadam

    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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    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

  12. 5 out of 5

    Saïdeh Pakravan

    An impressive, knowledgeable, well researched and highly entertaining overview of the Iranians, their history, their complex psychology, their rich cultural diversity.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Harvey

    Iran is a most certainly complex nation, religiously, politically and culturally. One of the most interesting and compelling nation/state histories I've read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ann Timmins

    I knew nothing about Iran and its people. They were highly educated and rich. It was very informative and of course full of history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marcelle Malillo maggio

    Hard to get through.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    An excellent overview of Iran's history, culture, and politics for the lay reader

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barry Sierer

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joey

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Skippy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Londono

  23. 5 out of 5

    Warren Hosseinion

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rangerdoug

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melody Moezzi

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maryam

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kellarw

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Ellington

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brad Hart

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