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Rosewater: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival

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When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by his smell: Rosewater. For the Bahari family, wars, coups, and revolutions are not distant concepts but intimate realities they have suffered for generations: Maziar’s father was imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s, and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Alone in his cell at Evin Prison, fearing the worst, Maziar draws strength from his memories of the courage of his father and sister in the face of torture, and hears their voices speaking to him across the years. He dreams of being with Paola in London, and imagines all that she and his rambunctious, resilient eighty-four-year-old mother must be doing to campaign for his release. During the worst of his encounters with Rosewater, he silently repeats the names of his loved ones, calling on their strength and love to protect him and praying he will be released in time for the birth of his first child. A riveting, heart-wrenching memoir, Rosewater offers insight into the past seventy years of regime change in Iran, as well as the future of a country where the democratic impulses of the youth continually clash with a government that becomes more totalitarian with each passing day. An intimate and fascinating account of contemporary Iran, it is also the moving and wonderfully written story of one family’s extraordinary courage in the face of repression. Now a major motion picture directed by Jon Stewart - Previously published as Then They Came for Me.


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When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by his smell: Rosewater. For the Bahari family, wars, coups, and revolutions are not distant concepts but intimate realities they have suffered for generations: Maziar’s father was imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s, and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Alone in his cell at Evin Prison, fearing the worst, Maziar draws strength from his memories of the courage of his father and sister in the face of torture, and hears their voices speaking to him across the years. He dreams of being with Paola in London, and imagines all that she and his rambunctious, resilient eighty-four-year-old mother must be doing to campaign for his release. During the worst of his encounters with Rosewater, he silently repeats the names of his loved ones, calling on their strength and love to protect him and praying he will be released in time for the birth of his first child. A riveting, heart-wrenching memoir, Rosewater offers insight into the past seventy years of regime change in Iran, as well as the future of a country where the democratic impulses of the youth continually clash with a government that becomes more totalitarian with each passing day. An intimate and fascinating account of contemporary Iran, it is also the moving and wonderfully written story of one family’s extraordinary courage in the face of repression. Now a major motion picture directed by Jon Stewart - Previously published as Then They Came for Me.

30 review for Rosewater: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    My first job out of college was at a weekly newspaper, and the office receptionist had a passion for writing and supporting Irish political prisoners. In my naivete, I couldn't imagine her efforts making a difference. And why were they being held prisoner, anyway? Surely they had done something to deserve their punishment. Now that I'm older and more worldly, I understand that tyrants frequently imprison the innocent and don't care about justice -- they care about consolidating power and squashin My first job out of college was at a weekly newspaper, and the office receptionist had a passion for writing and supporting Irish political prisoners. In my naivete, I couldn't imagine her efforts making a difference. And why were they being held prisoner, anyway? Surely they had done something to deserve their punishment. Now that I'm older and more worldly, I understand that tyrants frequently imprison the innocent and don't care about justice -- they care about consolidating power and squashing anyone who dares to question them. And I fully appreciate those people on the outside who try to help the falsely accused. Maziar Bahari is a journalist who was imprisoned in Iran in 2009 after Ahmadinejad was reelected (or hijacked the vote, depending on your opinion). Maziar was born in Iran but immigrated to Canada at a young age. He worked for Newsweek magazine and was in Tehran to cover the election. One morning the Revolutionary Guard raided his mother's house and handcuffed him, and Maziar ended up spending the next 118 days in prison. During that time, Rosewater, his interrogator, beat him almost daily and accused him of being a spy. In a now-famous incident, Rosewater played Maziar a clip of his appearance on The Daily Show, which was a satirical piece, but his tormentor took it seriously and accused him of working with American spies. The book does an excellent job of explaining the history and politics of Iran and the buildup to the 2009 election. Maziar was raised by passionate parents, and both his father and his sister had previously been political prisoners and had been tortured. When he was in solitary confinement, Maziar held imaginary conversations with his father and sister and gained strength from their courage and experience. Meanwhile, the international community was putting pressure on Iran to release Maziar and other political prisoners, especially journalists who had been rounded up and arrested. While in prison, Rosewater had warned Maziar not to say anything against the Iranian government, but he had made a silent vow to his father: "I would make the world aware of the injustices suffered by the people of Iran. I would never forget my people, or my duty to help my friends and colleagues languishing behind bars. I would do my best to defeat Rosewater and his masters, in any way I could." After more than three months of being confined, Maziar was finally released and immediately booked a flight to London, where his pregnant wife had been waiting for him. At first he didn't give any interviews to the press and focused on being with his wife and his new baby, but soon he started speaking out about his ordeal and the injustices against other Iranian citizens. There is a thoughtful epilogue in which Maziar talks about the future of Iran and his hope for a democratic government. There is also a helpful timeline giving a detailed history of Iran. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in international politics or the Middle East. Fans of The Daily Show would also be keen about it, since this is the story that Jon Stewart is making into a movie. Update August 2013: Ahmadinejad is out of office as president and seeing him on the news this week made me remember how good this book was. I've increased my original star rating from 4 up to 5 because this story was so powerful. Update August 2014: They have released the trailer for Rosewater, the movie Jon Stewart made based on this book, and it looks great! I am excited to see it. But also read the book, you guys. It's really good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jpAV...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Idarah

    “Mr. Bahari, let me advise you on this matter,” he said before exiting the room. “In our judicial system, it is the interrogator who makes the final decision. It is better if you cooperate with us, rather than rely on anyone outside of this room. You are here, and here, I am the only one who will make decisions about your life.” – Rosewater This morning's headline about the beheading of a British aid worker by the terrorist group ISIS filled me with dread, but especially honed in on this fee “Mr. Bahari, let me advise you on this matter,” he said before exiting the room. “In our judicial system, it is the interrogator who makes the final decision. It is better if you cooperate with us, rather than rely on anyone outside of this room. You are here, and here, I am the only one who will make decisions about your life.” – Rosewater This morning's headline about the beheading of a British aid worker by the terrorist group ISIS filled me with dread, but especially honed in on this feeling of helplessness. I experienced those same feelings while reading Then They Came for Me. Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist, is incarcerated in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran while reporting on the 2009 presidential election. Subjected to physical and psychological abuse by Rosewater, a pseudonym Bahari uses for his interrgator and torturer, he never gives up hope that his family will continue to advocate for his release. In the meantime, he attempts to keep his wits about him by reflecting on the history of his country, its rocky politics, and even his own family's history of activism and captivity. "I felt it was my job to provide accurate, well-reported information and, in doing so, help the world to have a better understanding of Iran and in my own way build a gradual path toward a more democratic future." I think that's what I loved most about this book. Bahari is so candid and knowledgeable about Iran, its people, and its even more complicated political mechanism. I feel like a better informed reader, even when parts of this book and the atrocities Bahri witnessed were hard to read. I highly recommend this book, especially for fans of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption and The Complete Persepolis.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristy K

    This is a book everyone should read. Bahari, a journalist who was raised in Iran but became a Canadian citizen and later worked in London, goes to Iran to cover the 2009 elections. There, while reporting on the post-election protests, he gets arrested and accused of being a spy. He then endures months of harsh and vicious interrogations in an Iranian prison. Bahrari alternates between telling of his time in prison and talking about his family and upbringing in Iran during the regime change. So m This is a book everyone should read. Bahari, a journalist who was raised in Iran but became a Canadian citizen and later worked in London, goes to Iran to cover the 2009 elections. There, while reporting on the post-election protests, he gets arrested and accused of being a spy. He then endures months of harsh and vicious interrogations in an Iranian prison. Bahrari alternates between telling of his time in prison and talking about his family and upbringing in Iran during the regime change. So many of what he said was hard to fathom and grasp as it is so far removed from what we here in America have ever had to deal with. We are not tortured for voicing our opinions; we do not live in fear of a family member being taken simply because they sat alone with the opposite sex or owned a book the government deemed evil. It is truly saddening, infuriating, and eye-opening to hear about what he, and many other Iranian citizens endure. So many of them do not agree with their government but when the alternative is imprisonment, torture, or death, what else can they do but try to live under its rule? Bahari is able to give a voice to many of those citizens, to shine a light on the dark practices inside those Iranian prisons, and show how hard it is to break the human spirit.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hana

    The first time I read Maziar Bahari's "Then They Came For Me" was in 2012. I started the book on the train ride from London to Paris and finished it in a Parisian cafe that evening. It is powerful and haunting and brought me to tears; however, it is such an important story and one that, as an Iranian/Canadian, is near to my heart. The book chronicles Maziar's trip to Iran during the fateful 2009 elections. A journalist for Newsweek magazine, Maziar reported on the elections and on the subsequent The first time I read Maziar Bahari's "Then They Came For Me" was in 2012. I started the book on the train ride from London to Paris and finished it in a Parisian cafe that evening. It is powerful and haunting and brought me to tears; however, it is such an important story and one that, as an Iranian/Canadian, is near to my heart. The book chronicles Maziar's trip to Iran during the fateful 2009 elections. A journalist for Newsweek magazine, Maziar reported on the elections and on the subsequent mayhem that erupts in the country after Ahmadinejad allegedly beats the more popular candidate, Moussavi. While working in Iran, Maziar is arrested and imprisoned on charges of being a "US spy". You can imagine what happens then ... I first heard of Maziar Bahari after Jason Jones "interviewed" him in Tehran for a segment for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart". As a "Daily Show" fanatic, I have vivid memories of watching the interview segment when it aired. As an Iranian/Canadian , I have vivid memories of the 2009 elections. And, as a human being, I have vivid memories of the day that I heard of Maziar's arrest and imprisonment. For me to voice my opinions about this would take up even more space ... you know how much I like to vent. I am re-reading this book in time for the Toronto International Film Festival's premiere of "Rosewater", the film adaptation of the book and Jon Stewart's directorial debut. It is magnificent in a powerful and sorrowful way and I urge everyone, be they into politics or not, to read it. You will NOT be disappointed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Seymour

    I think everyone needs to read this book in order to get a better understanding of what is behind that tiny word, "Iran", when the newsreader says it. Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek journalist, was arrested following the Iranian election in 2009. Beatings and solitary confinement ensued as the regime attempted to extract a confession from him that he was a spy. In spite of the agonising circumstances, he had been expecting to return to the side of his pregnant fiancée in London in a matter of days, Ma I think everyone needs to read this book in order to get a better understanding of what is behind that tiny word, "Iran", when the newsreader says it. Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek journalist, was arrested following the Iranian election in 2009. Beatings and solitary confinement ensued as the regime attempted to extract a confession from him that he was a spy. In spite of the agonising circumstances, he had been expecting to return to the side of his pregnant fiancée in London in a matter of days, Maziar writes with warmth and flashes of humour that betray enormous strength of soul. He comes from a family of dissidents whose love for their nation has forced them to defy three generations of tyranny. His father and his sister and numerous friends were incarcerated and tortured under successive regimes and Maziar uniquely weaves their story into an account of the recent history of Iran since the times of the last Shah. This is not just a book about his imprisonment and eventual release, it is an insightful and authoritative analysis of the tensions within Iran and a snapshot of a generation that is ready for a change that was quite brutally denied them in the last election. The author is at pains to bring a journalistic fairness to bear even on his captors and tormentors and the human elements of his relationship with his interrogator are poignantly told with a sense that the man who beats him is, himself, a puppet of the regime. This objectivity gives the author the moral high ground at every turn. The paranoia and ignorance of the authorities is starkly contrasted with his attempts to speak the truth. At one point he is interrogated about his relationship with the dead playwright Anton Checkhov, who they are convinced is another zionist spy. The Iranians have a beautiful and ancient culture and many of the kindest and most well mannered people I have ever met are from Iran. It is tragic that this is not reflected in all the "bad news" that comes from that part of the globe and it is important that we do not respond with the same blindness that grips the current regime. Please read this book. This is the first book I ever received as part of a Firstreads giveaway on Goodreads. The publishers do not solicit reviews and this is, therefore, my freely-given and honest reading of the book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    This is Bahari’s account of being imprisoned during the Green Revolution in Iran. While the book was not gripping, it was a rather interesting book. Bahari becomes the third member of his family to be imprisoned in Iran. There is a sense of distance in his narrative of the imprisonment, most likely for his sanity, but Bahari does seem to be frank. He doesn’t come across as holier than thou or anything. Just an everyman who found himself in a horrible situation. Quite frankly, I think Bahari shoul This is Bahari’s account of being imprisoned during the Green Revolution in Iran. While the book was not gripping, it was a rather interesting book. Bahari becomes the third member of his family to be imprisoned in Iran. There is a sense of distance in his narrative of the imprisonment, most likely for his sanity, but Bahari does seem to be frank. He doesn’t come across as holier than thou or anything. Just an everyman who found himself in a horrible situation. Quite frankly, I think Bahari should write a biography about his mother because she sounds like an awesome woman, and I would love to know more about her.

  7. 4 out of 5

    lisa_emily

    2013 is the year I catch up on the non-fiction books I’ve been meaning to read for the last few years. So many great non-fiction books came out in 2012 that I had not gotten around to reading that I vowed I would get on the wagon and made a list of over a dozen to read, I’ll probably add more to this list as the year unfolds. This book I’ve had in fact special ordered and it had been sitting on my shelf pleading to be read for the last several months. I heard Mazair Bahiri interviewed on Fresh A 2013 is the year I catch up on the non-fiction books I’ve been meaning to read for the last few years. So many great non-fiction books came out in 2012 that I had not gotten around to reading that I vowed I would get on the wagon and made a list of over a dozen to read, I’ll probably add more to this list as the year unfolds. This book I’ve had in fact special ordered and it had been sitting on my shelf pleading to be read for the last several months. I heard Mazair Bahiri interviewed on Fresh Air a few years ago and I was stunned by his account of his imprisonment in Iran in 2009 following the elections and subsequent uprisings. Even if you do not read the book, you should at least listen to the interview. http://www.npr.org/2010/06/15/1278330... Bahari’s book does a good job looking at the history of how Iran came to the place of where it is today- he acknowledges the corrupt intervention of the US’s and Britain’s involvement and the religious restrictive government that followed after the revolution. One of the more interesting aspect of his story is about his own father’s various political throughout the years. Bahari’s very human description of his imprisoner and torturer allows us to see how a flawed and illogical regime gets expressed through the faulty minds of those who follow such a rule. But there is hope; before his capture, Bahari was able to interview some citizens as they were getting ready to cast their vote. The youth especially voiced their desire for a more democratic and rational government. There is more to Iran that what we see in the media.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    I first became interested in "Then They Came for Me" by Maziar Bahari, after hearing that Comedy Central's Jon Stewart was taking a break from his popular comedy news show to direct and produce a movie based on this book. Stewart's interest in the story stems from the fact that Bahari was arrested by Iranian authorities shortly after being interviewed for Stewart's TV show, "The Daily Show", which did a brief segment with Bahari about the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Shortly after doing t I first became interested in "Then They Came for Me" by Maziar Bahari, after hearing that Comedy Central's Jon Stewart was taking a break from his popular comedy news show to direct and produce a movie based on this book. Stewart's interest in the story stems from the fact that Bahari was arrested by Iranian authorities shortly after being interviewed for Stewart's TV show, "The Daily Show", which did a brief segment with Bahari about the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Shortly after doing the skit, Bahari was arrested and accused of being a spy for a foreign government. The movie is tentatively titled "Rosewater", which is the name Bahari used for his jailer and torturer after being arrested. Bahari's book details his imprisonment, and give us insights into the repressive and totalitarian political climate in Iran. Based on the latest Iranian presidential election results in June, 2013, it appears that the Iranian people may be rejecting the ruling elite who called for the arrest of Bahari by choosing the relative moderate candidate Hasan Rowhani. It was also interesting to note that not one of former President Ahmadinejad ally's managed to capture a city council seat in Tehran. Not that Bahari's book had anything to do with these election results, but it's interesting to recognize that the policies of the ruling Party which Bahari criticizes seem to have been rejected by Iranian voters by their choosing an apparently more moderate leader. How significant this change will be remains to be seen, but this book, and the Stewart movie, can only serve to draw attention to the abuses of the former Ahmadinejad government, and perhaps changes will be made.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Blurb - Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran's presidential election, believing he would return to his pregnant fiancée, Paola, in just a few days. In fact, he would spend the next three months in Iran's most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions. During his time in prison, Bahari drew strength from the similar experiences of his family in the past: his father had been imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Bahari Blurb - Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran's presidential election, believing he would return to his pregnant fiancée, Paola, in just a few days. In fact, he would spend the next three months in Iran's most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions. During his time in prison, Bahari drew strength from the similar experiences of his family in the past: his father had been imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Bahari's memoir is also a troubling portrait of life in modern Iran. Read by Philip Arditti and Peter Hamilton Dyer. 'Then They Came for Me' is by Maziar Bahari, with Aimee Molloy. The book is published by Oneworld Abridged by Richard Hamilton Produced by Emma Harding. Tough read but very well done.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tova

    I'm a mess. I'm crying is 12 am and I'm sick. Oh and I have a huge test, a presentation and a huge project due this week. RTC

  11. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This was a good story and interesting book. The subject matter on the Iranian system of government was fascinating. I learned a lot and would recommend this book to anyone to try to provide some understanding of the Iranian people. I felt that the book suffered because Bahari is a journalist, not a writer. His storytelling is lackluster. After reading this book, I cannot begin to understand the horror that Bahari endured. And I really should be able to. Bahari fills the book with proclamations o This was a good story and interesting book. The subject matter on the Iranian system of government was fascinating. I learned a lot and would recommend this book to anyone to try to provide some understanding of the Iranian people. I felt that the book suffered because Bahari is a journalist, not a writer. His storytelling is lackluster. After reading this book, I cannot begin to understand the horror that Bahari endured. And I really should be able to. Bahari fills the book with proclamations of his own impartiality and declarations of how brave he was in the face of danger. Unfortunately he tells it rather than shows it. Simply put, I just think the book suffers from lackluster prose. I wasn't horrified by the descriptions of Bahari's treatment, and his discussions of the tortures that others endured should have been terrifying, but with the narrator it was just matter-of-fact (view spoiler)[some prisoners got raped by the guards with bottles and screwdrivers. How in the world do you make something like that sound banal!?! In this book, it's possible (hide spoiler)] . This was an Audible recording and my evaluation of the book may also be gleaned from what can only be described as strange narrator. He kept saying author-tarian instead authoritarian. There was very little variance in tone/emotion whether he was talking about his love for his pregnant fiance or a beating he had just endured. Those kinds of quirks in my view detracted from the story. In my view, the narrator was not good for the target audience (this presumes of course that people like me--people who watched the Daily Show with Jon Stewart are the target audience). 3.5 stars but I'm not feeling generous

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    This is an excellent book which gave me a glimpse into the lives of the everyday Iranian. I was moved by the love of the family members in this book and by the deep commitment that they to each other. I absolutely love Mr. Bahari's mother! She says what's on her mind. I gained a new appreciation as well for the younger Iranian population who just want to live in a war-free nation and to be able to raise their children in peace. They are tired of the politics that make their country look ignorant This is an excellent book which gave me a glimpse into the lives of the everyday Iranian. I was moved by the love of the family members in this book and by the deep commitment that they to each other. I absolutely love Mr. Bahari's mother! She says what's on her mind. I gained a new appreciation as well for the younger Iranian population who just want to live in a war-free nation and to be able to raise their children in peace. They are tired of the politics that make their country look ignorant and as though they want to go to war. They are in fear of reprisal just for voicing an opinion, or for their state of dress. This book takes you into the high security prison which Maziar Bahari is held in, and exposes the tactics used by the prison administrators through torture, both physical and mental, that breaks a man and forces him to confess even when he's not guilty, just to get it to stop. But Mr. Bahari refuses to make up things about others which just aren't true, and finds himself explaining the most insane accusations based on aquaintances that he doesn't even have (such as "how do you know Pauly Shore" and why are you talking to "an American Spy", in reference to Jason Jones interviewing Mr. Bahari in a comedic skit in Iran just before the 2009 elections. (Two points to make here: 1) Jason Jones isn't a Spy, and 2) he's not American he's Canadian). I am anxious to see the movie when it comes out. I am not usually one to read a book like this, but after seeing him on The Daily Show with John Stewart and hearing his story I had to get the book. I'm glad that I did. I couldn't put it down.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laleh

    "Then They Came for Me" is targeted for non-Iranians who would like to know about the crazy and complex labyrinth of Iranian political and security systems. It is also a personal story: How Maziar Bahari and his family suffered tortures and imprisonment from the Iranian regime over the years. I liked the way he depicts a frame of "here and now" (from the streets of Tehran to his horrible moments of solitary confinement to his interrogations) and then takes a step back and tells us stories of his "Then They Came for Me" is targeted for non-Iranians who would like to know about the crazy and complex labyrinth of Iranian political and security systems. It is also a personal story: How Maziar Bahari and his family suffered tortures and imprisonment from the Iranian regime over the years. I liked the way he depicts a frame of "here and now" (from the streets of Tehran to his horrible moments of solitary confinement to his interrogations) and then takes a step back and tells us stories of his sister and father in prison, and then takes another step further and talks about Iranian political system. Maziar Bahari is not a bad story teller either. Despite the fact that I knew the "happy ending" of the book, I could feel a great deal of suspense as I turned each page over. He has a good sense of humor too. I enjoyed the part where he was telling made up stories of Thai massage to his interrogator and momentarily managed to stop his beatings!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book was so disappointing. I was eager to read it because Jon Stewart's new documentary "Rosewater" was based in this authors story. He comes across as whiny and arrogant and self righteous and overly dramatic. Plus he finally gets out of prison after 100 days and promptly abandons his 84 year old widowed mother who put up her home for his $300000 bail. He flees the country leaving his mother to face the Iranian authorities for his jumping bail. Yes, he was in jail, it was hard and he got sm This book was so disappointing. I was eager to read it because Jon Stewart's new documentary "Rosewater" was based in this authors story. He comes across as whiny and arrogant and self righteous and overly dramatic. Plus he finally gets out of prison after 100 days and promptly abandons his 84 year old widowed mother who put up her home for his $300000 bail. He flees the country leaving his mother to face the Iranian authorities for his jumping bail. Yes, he was in jail, it was hard and he got sm acked around but he was fed 3 times a day, allowed to exercise and occasionally make calls. After reading books about prisoners in China or North Korea, i(and recently a woman kidnapped and brutalized in Haiti) it was sometimes hard to sympathize. Plus the writer seemed to really enjoy pushing their buttons and did put himself at risk with a lot of reckless decisions. And honestly, not very well written for someone who considers himself a journalist. It was barely readable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    In a nutshell, the Iranian-born London-based journalist who authored this book was arrested for being a spy. He was accused of passing secrets to Jason Jones of The Daily Show. He was held and interrogated for 4 months in the same prison where his father had been imprisoned during the reign of the Shah of Iran and his sister during the times of the Iranian Revolution. I said many prayers of gratitude that I live in the country that I do while reading this book. Even with all our supposed trouble In a nutshell, the Iranian-born London-based journalist who authored this book was arrested for being a spy. He was accused of passing secrets to Jason Jones of The Daily Show. He was held and interrogated for 4 months in the same prison where his father had been imprisoned during the reign of the Shah of Iran and his sister during the times of the Iranian Revolution. I said many prayers of gratitude that I live in the country that I do while reading this book. Even with all our supposed troubles. Well-written. The narrator was perfect. Highly recommend.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    4.5 stars. This gut wrenching book opened my eyes to many injustices in Iran. Going into the book I knew that people were randomly arrested for insane reasons, tortured, often killed, or served lengthly prison sentences. But what I didn't know was how utterly clueless the interrogators were. If their techniques were not so cruel they would be laughable. Maziar Bahari is an excellent journalist and the book was well paced and never dull. I will be purchasing Jon Stewart's movie "Rosewater" to see 4.5 stars. This gut wrenching book opened my eyes to many injustices in Iran. Going into the book I knew that people were randomly arrested for insane reasons, tortured, often killed, or served lengthly prison sentences. But what I didn't know was how utterly clueless the interrogators were. If their techniques were not so cruel they would be laughable. Maziar Bahari is an excellent journalist and the book was well paced and never dull. I will be purchasing Jon Stewart's movie "Rosewater" to see it brought to the screen.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kalen

    Read this book. Horrifying story put into the context of Iran's religious and political history. It is never, ever dry or plodding--Bahari is a fantastic storyteller. For anyone who watched Iran's 2009 election unfold online or followed (the best you could) the story of Bahari's subsequent arrest, this is a must-read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie

    This book reads like fiction, but it's not. It's a real page turner. Bahari gives the reader an insider's view of political intrigue in Iran during and after the last election of Ahmadinejad. It also left me asking, can you ever really know what's happening behind the scenes of any government?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Serge Boucher

    An Iranian journalist documents the 2009 presidential election protests, gives an interview for an American comedy program, and then spends 118 days jailed and tortured by the regime on accusations of spying and treason. An incredible, absurd and terrifying story, all the more so for being true.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Read it before the film is released. Jon Stewart's directorial debut. Great for a better understanding of Iranian life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nitya Iyer

    I'll admit, i opened this book intending to love it. Although I blame Bahari for Jon Stewart's absence on The Daily Show, I'm almost as excited to watch Rosewater as I was to read this book. Maziar Bahari was an accredited journalist for Newsweek in Iran when he was arrested and thrown into the notorious Evin Prison. But before that, he was also the son of Iranian activists who discussed politics and history at the dinner table and were imprisoned under the Shah's regime. He was the brother of a I'll admit, i opened this book intending to love it. Although I blame Bahari for Jon Stewart's absence on The Daily Show, I'm almost as excited to watch Rosewater as I was to read this book. Maziar Bahari was an accredited journalist for Newsweek in Iran when he was arrested and thrown into the notorious Evin Prison. But before that, he was also the son of Iranian activists who discussed politics and history at the dinner table and were imprisoned under the Shah's regime. He was the brother of a woman who spent years in prison herself under the Ayatollah's regime. And he was a documentary film maker with an understanding of each small piece fits into the greater picture. Using his experience, understanding, and truly, love for Iran, Bahari frames his harrowing experience within the history of Iran through the revolutions of the Shah, the Ayatollah and the current government. He uses his family's experiences to capture the ebb and flow of rights under Iran's different leaders and show how organically the situation has grown into the behemoth it now is. And although he is honest as to the horror of his time in prison, he doesn't wallow in self-pity or lose sight of how much luckier he is than many other prisoners in Iran. While many prison stories I have read are simply depressing, Bahari's story is as educational as it is motivational. His book is filled with characters, like the rebellious young people meeting in a cafe and the adventurous motorbike rider who shakes himself out of drink to be a part of a revolution, so endearing that one cannot help but be moved to find a way to help them find their freedom and voices in their own country. Read this book, and consider doing your part to call for the release of all the prisoners unjustly incarcerated in Iran.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This story not only conveys the anticipation, hope, disappointment, disillusionment, torture, and survival of one man, but with the wonderfully interwoven histories and generational stories, of the entire population of a country. A great story in its own right, and an even better story if you want to understand the psyche of a nation. Personal disclaimer: This is a book I've been meaning to read for a long time. I remember the story, the arrest, some of the aftermath of the story and added this b This story not only conveys the anticipation, hope, disappointment, disillusionment, torture, and survival of one man, but with the wonderfully interwoven histories and generational stories, of the entire population of a country. A great story in its own right, and an even better story if you want to understand the psyche of a nation. Personal disclaimer: This is a book I've been meaning to read for a long time. I remember the story, the arrest, some of the aftermath of the story and added this book to my list to read when I first heard of its release. But knowing the story behind the book, I knew it was going to be a tough and painful true story to read, so I put it off and looked at it sitting there many times thinking later, it's too heavy for now, maybe next month or the month after. When I first heard about it getting made into a movie, I thought, I have to read it now before the movie, and still I put it off. Well the movie will be released this month and I couldn't put off this harrowing true story any longer, no matter how difficult I knew it would be to read. Imagine my surprise when I was swept away with the author on his journey, with the original anticipation of covering a news story, an election, and a shift in the politics of his country which quickly gave way to trepidation and morphed quickly into an entirely different story altogether... one of survival. Definitely not a book I should have avoided, but one I should have picked up on day one, and one I will have to reread again in the near future to catch even more of the backstory pieces that I know hazed in my rush to reach our author's rescue.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    (5.0) Powerful story well told I'd heard Maziar on Fresh Air and wanted to hear more of the story of his imprisonment in an Iranian political prison. I was pleasantly rewarded. I'm not sure how much of the quality is due to his co-author, Aimee Molloy, but I'm curious about other books she's worked on (though none actually sound that interesting to me now). Maziar comes from a politically outspoken family so it was not so much an accident or misfortune that he was imprisoned, more his birth right. (5.0) Powerful story well told I'd heard Maziar on Fresh Air and wanted to hear more of the story of his imprisonment in an Iranian political prison. I was pleasantly rewarded. I'm not sure how much of the quality is due to his co-author, Aimee Molloy, but I'm curious about other books she's worked on (though none actually sound that interesting to me now). Maziar comes from a politically outspoken family so it was not so much an accident or misfortune that he was imprisoned, more his birth right. Thanks to lots of pressure from many directions, the government let him go after just short of four months, but he tells of his experiences very well. I felt as I was in his mind (fortunately not his body) while these events were taking place. Insightful, scary, frustrating, inspiring at once. I was interested to read that his way of coping with solitary confinement was to exercise his mind and body: he'd do pushups, situps, raise his feet in the air and run or bicycle (and imagine his routes through the streets of London where he lived). He also created crossword puzzles in Persian and English, repeated the names of his loved ones and was visited by the voices of his father and sister (both of whom had both been imprisoned and later passed away). He certainly has the mind and will to survive such an awful experience, and the memory to be able to share it with the world afterwards.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anu Sidhu

    I first came upon this book via Jon Stewart, and knew I had to read it. A horrendously beautiful depiction of the corruption and violence amidst the 2009 elections in Iran. Maziar Bahari- an Iranian-Canadian journalist-documents this time with a focus on the Green Movement, an effort for change to a more democratic Islam. HIs captivity by the Islamic Republic, however, perhaps best illustrates the fear and tragedy ordinary Islamic citizens are faced with on a daily basis. For three months Bahari I first came upon this book via Jon Stewart, and knew I had to read it. A horrendously beautiful depiction of the corruption and violence amidst the 2009 elections in Iran. Maziar Bahari- an Iranian-Canadian journalist-documents this time with a focus on the Green Movement, an effort for change to a more democratic Islam. HIs captivity by the Islamic Republic, however, perhaps best illustrates the fear and tragedy ordinary Islamic citizens are faced with on a daily basis. For three months Bahari is interrogated and tortured, and it is there he learns most about the delusional realities the few Islamic extremists have imposed on his entire country. I strongly recommend this book to anyone, and everyone. It was especially eye-opening considering the recent tragedy in Paris. It makes- forces you to think about the conditions of present day Iran and how Islamic extremist thought is detrimental even within borders, not just outside. It makes you remember that those few tragically skewed and horrendously gruesome thoughts/actions of the few do not come near to representing an entire population. It makes you remember that people suffer by such extremist thought, and that suffering is what matters, not defaulting to stereotypes. It forces you to reckon with the realities of Islam that have consumed the globe. Most importantly, it makes you remember to be angry, to be very angry, but to be angry at those few that have hijacked an entire population.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shahrun

    First I have to tell you that I got a copy of this book through GoodReads First Reads Giveaways, in exchange for an honest review. (This review is all my own opinion!) As soon as I discovered this book I knew it was important for me to read it. I found it was a very emotional experience. I cannot remember the last time I have read anything that made me cry so much or so angry. Although I wish that Mr Bahari and his family did not have to suffer this horrific experience, I am so grateful that when First I have to tell you that I got a copy of this book through GoodReads First Reads Giveaways, in exchange for an honest review. (This review is all my own opinion!) As soon as I discovered this book I knew it was important for me to read it. I found it was a very emotional experience. I cannot remember the last time I have read anything that made me cry so much or so angry. Although I wish that Mr Bahari and his family did not have to suffer this horrific experience, I am so grateful that when he survived the ordeal, he had the courage to tell his story. I feel this book is important because he explains the modern history of Iran in an accessible way, using the very personal examples of his own family. I certainly now have a much better understanding of the real story behind the headlines of recent years. And an enormous appreciation for the rights and freedoms I take for granted living in England that Iranians simple do not have! From page 307 "The Islamic regime was still worried about its image in the world". I say, if you do not do anything you are ashamed of, you have nothing to be worried about! I really hope Iran can find a peaceful solution. To end all the suffering and become a fantastic example of a great Islamic democracy. World leaders all take note of Page 319: "nothing good can be achieved through violence. Nothing"!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This was a great and important book, as well as a great read. It should be mandatory reading for all Americans. It's disturbing to know how much Iranian officials hate America; how deeply many of them are in the service of the actual forces of evil in the universe; how mind-bogglingly stupid they are; how profoundly they continue to oppress their people; and how strong and indomitable is the spirit of the Iranian people in the face of this oppression. My amazement grows all the time at how much This was a great and important book, as well as a great read. It should be mandatory reading for all Americans. It's disturbing to know how much Iranian officials hate America; how deeply many of them are in the service of the actual forces of evil in the universe; how mind-bogglingly stupid they are; how profoundly they continue to oppress their people; and how strong and indomitable is the spirit of the Iranian people in the face of this oppression. My amazement grows all the time at how much Iranians love their country despite the unimaginable and endlessly scary shit they have to put up with from their government, and how that love is not at all a falsely manufactured nationalism as mere nationalism is in most other places I can think of. I have read many Iranian memoirs, practically all that can be gotten in English, and all of them have conveyed this beautiful spirit, absolutely unique to Iran. This book is no exception, despite being more political and intricately detailed and less poetic than other memoirs.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Fieldman

    VERY intense, never mind I tend to be 'over-the-top' empathetic at times, so this was almost too much for me. I had to start rotating reading this with Jane Austen's 'Emma' to balance things out. Love the detail, his writing style, and his sense of humor (p 101 'I remembered my father telling me about a prison guard he'd encountered who thought every foreign word with the "sh" sound meant hashish, including "Chicago" and "champagne." Maybe Rosewater believed anything that included the letters 'p VERY intense, never mind I tend to be 'over-the-top' empathetic at times, so this was almost too much for me. I had to start rotating reading this with Jane Austen's 'Emma' to balance things out. Love the detail, his writing style, and his sense of humor (p 101 'I remembered my father telling me about a prison guard he'd encountered who thought every foreign word with the "sh" sound meant hashish, including "Chicago" and "champagne." Maybe Rosewater believed anything that included the letters 'p', 'o', and 'r' meant pornography.') Appreciate the brave candor clarifying what really is happening over there, especially with how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was(is). Of course, I jumped to the back of the book, read the 'Epilogue', and then found wonderfully helpful resources: Who's Who, Time Line of Iran (background info on events of the book), Glossary of Terms, and Further Reading, Listening, and Watching. So I read those things first; glad I did- helped my comprehension. Maziar Bahair is just cool beyond words. Grateful to everyone who helped free him to be able to tell this story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I really enjoyed reading this book, although I found it profoundly disturbing. Let's just say it's not recommended bedtime reading. I learned a great deal about what went on in Iran politically during the 2009 elections, and the subsequent protests by the people. Bahari was an Iranian-Canadian journalist covering the election for Newsweek, when he was arrested and jailed (his British fiancee was five months pregnant at the time). He spent four months in prison, being interrogated, beaten and tor I really enjoyed reading this book, although I found it profoundly disturbing. Let's just say it's not recommended bedtime reading. I learned a great deal about what went on in Iran politically during the 2009 elections, and the subsequent protests by the people. Bahari was an Iranian-Canadian journalist covering the election for Newsweek, when he was arrested and jailed (his British fiancee was five months pregnant at the time). He spent four months in prison, being interrogated, beaten and tortured. His account is well-written and horrific. It is made more touching by the fact that both his late father and late sister had been jailed by various regimes in Iran, and he spends some time during his solitary confinement communing with them and telling the story of his politically-inclined family. I am deeply saddened by the brutal repression of the Iranian people voicing their desire for a more open and democratic society. I hope they will somehow find their way to a brighter future.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allison Boyer

    I'm thankful I got to see Jon Stewart' movie based off this book last summer and that I received a free copy of this book recently. I feel that books like this are the reason books are so important. Bahari uses this book to not only talk about the injustices caused by the Iranian government but also teaches history, which can be just as important. Many pages are spent detailing Iran's history and specifically how their government works and how religion fits into it. Not only does this help set u I'm thankful I got to see Jon Stewart' movie based off this book last summer and that I received a free copy of this book recently. I feel that books like this are the reason books are so important. Bahari uses this book to not only talk about the injustices caused by the Iranian government but also teaches history, which can be just as important. Many pages are spent detailing Iran's history and specifically how their government works and how religion fits into it. Not only does this help set up the significance of the start of his story but it also helps readers like myself to see into a corrupt government. Bahari's story is important on many levels, I love that he uses his knowledge and experience to educate and inform others about such an important cause.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I recently had the pleasure of meeting Maziar Bahari, and can vouch for his continued efforts to do exactly as he planned - bring attention to those still suffering in Iran and those wrongly accused and imprisoned, especially those that lack his high profile and international network. The subtitle "a family's story.." is an accurate one, given how much he ties his own story to the earlier imprisonment of his sister and father under other regimes, and the strength and suffering of his mother and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Maziar Bahari, and can vouch for his continued efforts to do exactly as he planned - bring attention to those still suffering in Iran and those wrongly accused and imprisoned, especially those that lack his high profile and international network. The subtitle "a family's story.." is an accurate one, given how much he ties his own story to the earlier imprisonment of his sister and father under other regimes, and the strength and suffering of his mother and wife throughout. All the more credit to him for sharing his story and giving voice to that of others.

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