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The Struggle for Iran

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When Christopher de Bellaigue first visited Iran in 1999, he found it irresistably alive: under the leadership of President Mohammad Khatami, Islamic revolutionary rule was loosening and the prospects for democratic pluralism seemed bright. But over the remaining six years of Khatami's presidency, de Bellaigue watched as the conservative religious establishment reasserted When Christopher de Bellaigue first visited Iran in 1999, he found it irresistably alive: under the leadership of President Mohammad Khatami, Islamic revolutionary rule was loosening and the prospects for democratic pluralism seemed bright. But over the remaining six years of Khatami's presidency, de Bellaigue watched as the conservative religious establishment reasserted its power and the hopes of reform slowly died. The country seemed to turn its back on all that Khatami stood for when it elected an unsophisticated Islamist ideologue, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to succeed him in 2005. As the optimism of the reform movement was fading, international tensions over Iran's nuclear program were rising. George W. Bush included Iran in the "axis of evil," depicting it as a malign theocracy determined to acquire nuclear weapons and threaten Israel. Yet de Bellaigue's accounts of the nuclear negotiations make clear that the West's opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions has helped both to empower those who oppose democratic reform and perhaps even to convince Iran it needs nuclear weapons for self-defense. Beyond the high political drama, de Bellaigue, a long-term resident of Tehran and a fluent Persian speaker, gives a sense of the complexities of Iranian culture and society through striking portraits of Iranians going about their daily lives—reading the poetry of Rumi, looking at modern art, making films under the threat of censorship, trying to get by despite domestic turmoil and military threats. His keen analyses of Iran's politics and its people offer fascinating insights into a often misunderstood nation that poses some of the most challenging problems facing the world today.


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When Christopher de Bellaigue first visited Iran in 1999, he found it irresistably alive: under the leadership of President Mohammad Khatami, Islamic revolutionary rule was loosening and the prospects for democratic pluralism seemed bright. But over the remaining six years of Khatami's presidency, de Bellaigue watched as the conservative religious establishment reasserted When Christopher de Bellaigue first visited Iran in 1999, he found it irresistably alive: under the leadership of President Mohammad Khatami, Islamic revolutionary rule was loosening and the prospects for democratic pluralism seemed bright. But over the remaining six years of Khatami's presidency, de Bellaigue watched as the conservative religious establishment reasserted its power and the hopes of reform slowly died. The country seemed to turn its back on all that Khatami stood for when it elected an unsophisticated Islamist ideologue, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to succeed him in 2005. As the optimism of the reform movement was fading, international tensions over Iran's nuclear program were rising. George W. Bush included Iran in the "axis of evil," depicting it as a malign theocracy determined to acquire nuclear weapons and threaten Israel. Yet de Bellaigue's accounts of the nuclear negotiations make clear that the West's opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions has helped both to empower those who oppose democratic reform and perhaps even to convince Iran it needs nuclear weapons for self-defense. Beyond the high political drama, de Bellaigue, a long-term resident of Tehran and a fluent Persian speaker, gives a sense of the complexities of Iranian culture and society through striking portraits of Iranians going about their daily lives—reading the poetry of Rumi, looking at modern art, making films under the threat of censorship, trying to get by despite domestic turmoil and military threats. His keen analyses of Iran's politics and its people offer fascinating insights into a often misunderstood nation that poses some of the most challenging problems facing the world today.

41 review for The Struggle for Iran

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Ward

    First book I’ve read on Iran. Decent introduction for me. Definitely a little dated at this point but interesting to understand that time and place.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    This was a fascinating read and helped me paint a bigger picture of this country. There were a couple of great points that the author highlighted about making religion law and it losing some of it's inherent mysticism. Rendering the magical banal.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Pflaum

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie C. Fox

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  7. 4 out of 5

    Veeler.Play

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shelly Johnson

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tristana

  10. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Tiedt

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aagave

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jack

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tommy Collison

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sheikh Tajamul

  15. 5 out of 5

    Naz

  16. 4 out of 5

    MehdiMM

  17. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Marie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nightocelot

  19. 4 out of 5

    kimberly

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sourena

  21. 5 out of 5

    Reto Wattenhofer

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kevin J. Rogers

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lee Razer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  26. 5 out of 5

    Niki

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annie Norman-Schiff

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kali

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sohrab Behrad

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kurosh

  31. 5 out of 5

    Samyka

  32. 5 out of 5

    Steve Erickson

  33. 5 out of 5

    Pavla Ripinskaya

  34. 4 out of 5

    Molly

  35. 4 out of 5

    Destinie

  36. 5 out of 5

    Melissalipman

  37. 4 out of 5

    Andre

  38. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stewart

  39. 4 out of 5

    Angel

  40. 4 out of 5

    Leasha

  41. 4 out of 5

    Lana

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