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Iran looms large in the psyche of modern America. For decades, it has been “the enemy,” its government taunting us and attacking our Western, secular lifestyle. That is largely the Iranian government, however, not the Iranian people. Here’s the proof. When Jamie Maslin decides to backpack the entire length of the Silk Road, he decides to travel first and plan later. Then, Iran looms large in the psyche of modern America. For decades, it has been “the enemy,” its government taunting us and attacking our Western, secular lifestyle. That is largely the Iranian government, however, not the Iranian people. Here’s the proof. When Jamie Maslin decides to backpack the entire length of the Silk Road, he decides to travel first and plan later. Then, unexpectedly stranded in a country he’s only read about in newspapers, he decides to make the best of it—but wonders whether he’ll make it out alive. Maslin finds himself suddenly plunged into a subversive, contradictory world of Iranian subculture, where he is embraced by locals who are more than happy to show him the true Iran as they see it—the one where unmarried men and women mingle in Western clothes at secret parties, where alcohol (the possession of which is punishable by hand-amputation) is readily available on the black market, where Christian churches are national heritage sites, and where he discovers the real meaning of friendship, nationality, and hospitality.   This is a hilarious, charming, and astonishing account of one Westerner’s life-altering rambles across Iran that will leave you wondering what else you don’t know about Iran and its people.


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Iran looms large in the psyche of modern America. For decades, it has been “the enemy,” its government taunting us and attacking our Western, secular lifestyle. That is largely the Iranian government, however, not the Iranian people. Here’s the proof. When Jamie Maslin decides to backpack the entire length of the Silk Road, he decides to travel first and plan later. Then, Iran looms large in the psyche of modern America. For decades, it has been “the enemy,” its government taunting us and attacking our Western, secular lifestyle. That is largely the Iranian government, however, not the Iranian people. Here’s the proof. When Jamie Maslin decides to backpack the entire length of the Silk Road, he decides to travel first and plan later. Then, unexpectedly stranded in a country he’s only read about in newspapers, he decides to make the best of it—but wonders whether he’ll make it out alive. Maslin finds himself suddenly plunged into a subversive, contradictory world of Iranian subculture, where he is embraced by locals who are more than happy to show him the true Iran as they see it—the one where unmarried men and women mingle in Western clothes at secret parties, where alcohol (the possession of which is punishable by hand-amputation) is readily available on the black market, where Christian churches are national heritage sites, and where he discovers the real meaning of friendship, nationality, and hospitality.   This is a hilarious, charming, and astonishing account of one Westerner’s life-altering rambles across Iran that will leave you wondering what else you don’t know about Iran and its people.

30 review for Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn: A Hitchhiker's Adventures in the New Iran

  1. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    What is it with titles of books on Iran? Do publishers think Iran is so unappealing that they need to jazz it up?("Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America And American in Iran"; "The Ayatollah begs to Differ"; "Drinking Arak off and Ayatollah's Beard", etc)? I doubt that Maslin has devoted 500 words devoted to rappers and porn. The title belies the substance of the book. Jamie Maslin defies conventional wisdom and travels to Iran. He meets incredibly hospitable Iranians. In this What is it with titles of books on Iran? Do publishers think Iran is so unappealing that they need to jazz it up?("Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America And American in Iran"; "The Ayatollah begs to Differ"; "Drinking Arak off and Ayatollah's Beard", etc)? I doubt that Maslin has devoted 500 words devoted to rappers and porn. The title belies the substance of the book. Jamie Maslin defies conventional wisdom and travels to Iran. He meets incredibly hospitable Iranians. In this book he thoroughly immerses you in the country's people, scenery and antiquities. His warm and generous hosts are surprised, some laugh, when he tells them that they are perceived as terrorists outside their country. He sent me to You Tube to hear the bleating Chris De Burge and the repetitive Modern Talking. I had more enjoyable internet explorations searching the architecture of Esfahan, the antiquities of Persepolis, the Babak Castle and more. Maslin gives an over lightly of the history of these sites and the modern history of places like the Den of Espionage. What you can't find so well surfing the net are the descriptions of and conversations with ordinary Iranians. This is a treat for the armchair traveler as is meeting the international travel companions he casually finds. The locals are quick to invite Maslin into their homes. They are surprisingly open, even though, as a school visit showed, there could be a camera anywhere. The final chapter raises interesting questions. I was glad to see Maslin engage with Iranian females. Many male writers [i.e.The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran) marginalize (or ignore) their plight. With Maslin being British, some words continually jolted my eye. "Whilst" and "Lads" come to mind. While in great need of a map, I like this kind of travel book. If you have interest in Iran and like travel books that emphasize the adventure and the people (as opposed to the place) this book is for you too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Igrowastreesgrow

    I have read quite a bit of travel writing. This piece of writing was a bit over the top for me. The good points of this book were the people he came across and the amount of Iran that he was able to see. The bad points were his overall personality and his extreme ways of experiencing the country that may wrongly inspire someone else to do something similar. At the end of the day it was not a great book and it wasn't horrible but the only reason I would remember it is because of where he went rat I have read quite a bit of travel writing. This piece of writing was a bit over the top for me. The good points of this book were the people he came across and the amount of Iran that he was able to see. The bad points were his overall personality and his extreme ways of experiencing the country that may wrongly inspire someone else to do something similar. At the end of the day it was not a great book and it wasn't horrible but the only reason I would remember it is because of where he went rather than his writing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dеnnis

    It's amazing how a travelogue worth a series of blog posts at most was published as a separate book. This is definitely the case of 'I could pen it myself'. I will leave aside book's relative pluses and minuses, but, Jesus, if you can find this side by side with the Therouxs, I'm happy that in my country there's still an unspoken understanding of what merits paper and what is better be consigned to a web-page.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alexandria

    Dreck. Dreckity dreck dreck godawful dreck. As bad as the writing was, it was unfortunately not so bad as to disguise the horrid character of its author: self-centered, pompous and surprisingly narrow-minded for someone on a journey such as his. Any insight the book provides into modern Iran and its people is in spite of the author, not because of him--and is likely more credit to the strength of character of the people he encounters than any genuine recognition of such on his part. It is that gl Dreck. Dreckity dreck dreck godawful dreck. As bad as the writing was, it was unfortunately not so bad as to disguise the horrid character of its author: self-centered, pompous and surprisingly narrow-minded for someone on a journey such as his. Any insight the book provides into modern Iran and its people is in spite of the author, not because of him--and is likely more credit to the strength of character of the people he encounters than any genuine recognition of such on his part. It is that glimmer, mostly buried beneath layers of narcissism and clunky writing, that I assume is responsible for the favorable reviews of this book. Let me just say that I adore travel writing, and there was nothing in the book that I found shocking or offensive besides the attitude of the author and the lack of skill with which he describes his travels. A most disappointing read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lagobond

    3.5 stars. This is not great literature, and it's not a travel guide. So if you're looking for either of those, this is not the book you want. It's also really not about Iranian rappers or Persian porn, though both make brief appearances. It's just an entertaining little book about a young guy who -- rather accidentally -- goes on a fairly immersive trip to a country about which he knows next to nothing; a country about which most of us in the West know next to nothing (and what we do "know" is 3.5 stars. This is not great literature, and it's not a travel guide. So if you're looking for either of those, this is not the book you want. It's also really not about Iranian rappers or Persian porn, though both make brief appearances. It's just an entertaining little book about a young guy who -- rather accidentally -- goes on a fairly immersive trip to a country about which he knows next to nothing; a country about which most of us in the West know next to nothing (and what we do "know" is largely inaccurate). The writing is pretty straightforward, but it has plenty of wit, irreverence, thoughtfulness, and feeling. I always appreciate a book that can make me laugh out loud, and this one did so repeatedly. I've been curious about Iran for a long time, and I feel that traveling in spirit with Maslin has given me a nice overview of the country, and a warm impression of its people. I definitely learned a lot about the culture, and also some mind-blowing facts (especially in the latter part of the book, when the author goes into more detail about things like badgirs and quanats). Maslin is not some kind of saint (yes there is a bit of misogyny in the book, but for the most part I didn't get the feeling that he thinks any less of women for being women). There were a few eye-rolling bits especially toward the middle, but I have to say I would happily travel with Maslin any day. For the most part he comes across as inquisitive, open-minded, flexible, respectful, and appreciative. Maslin's easy way of making friends along the way (and teaming up with various constellations of people for his explorations) reminded me of a couple similarly spontaneous trips I took when I was around the same age. There's something about connecting with strangers in a strange land that cannot be had any other way. Something so exhilarating about being graciously invited into people's homes. Something so primally pleasing about sharing a few happy days with someone despite differing languages and cultures. I hope I get to experience it again someday, because this book certainly has made me want to pack my bags and go.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vera Marie

    What we have here is incompatibility between reader and book. Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn (a terrific title) clearly aims at an entirely different demographic than this reader. I am definitely not the target audience, which seems to consist of those who are equally enthralled with partying and checking off historic sites. On the positive side, Jamie Maslin writes travel stories, the best way to present travel memoir. He peoples these stories with a few interesting characters, alt What we have here is incompatibility between reader and book. Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn (a terrific title) clearly aims at an entirely different demographic than this reader. I am definitely not the target audience, which seems to consist of those who are equally enthralled with partying and checking off historic sites. On the positive side, Jamie Maslin writes travel stories, the best way to present travel memoir. He peoples these stories with a few interesting characters, although he tends to focus on people his own age, including westerners. All we learn about older Iranians (older than college age) is that they are either someone’s mother (who cooks fantastic meals), someone’s father (who is amazingly generous at picking up tabs), or an outspoken taxi driver. On the plus side, Maslin achieves his overall goal of humanizing Iran in the face of pretty universal demonization. And he writes humorously, as in this passage. Finding a shared cab going to Masuleh was no drama but the drive there was, especially for some poor chap we saw riding toward us on a motorbike. He made the understandable mistake of trying to ride one-handed along a potholed road whilst carrying a tray of bread and wearing no crash helmet–as I’m sure we’ve all done from time to time. On the other hand Maslin’s enthusiasm became alternately endearing and bothersome. A writer should not be equally enthusiastic for centuries-old sites and the novelty of whiskey in cans. He seems to bend over backwards to present a positive picture that will be at odds with mainstream thought about Iran. One of my problems, no doubt, is that I have read a lot about Iran in the last couple of years and that leads to comparisons. I much preferred the deeper understanding of culture and history brought to the subject by Hugh Pope in Dining With Al Qaeda . (You can read my review here.) If you have a chance, compare Maslin’s three paragraphs on the Hafez tomb in Shiraz, with his emphasis on the similarity of Hafez’ poetry to a modern band that he mocks throughout the book, to Pope’s chapter on Hafez and his analysis of how revealing it is of Iranian thought. I also preferred the excellent Saved by Beauty by Roger Housden (You can read my review here.) Housden sets out, as Maslin does, to humanize Iran, but his narrative seems much more balanced to me, admitting deep problems in the society. Housden writes in depth about the life of Hafez, who it turns out was an outsider and a free spirit who resisted the Islamic ban on buying and drinking wine. Knowing those things would have served Maslin well as he compared Hafez to a German rock band. It also would have provided context to his discussions of the young people he had met in Iran. This review contains portions of a review I wrote at A Traveler's Library.Read the entire review here.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Harris

    I love a good travel story, and I enjoyed this one despite several long and uninteresting sections on drinking and illegal partying. In my own extensive travels to the Middle East, the least interesting people I have encountered are invariably those who embrace drinking and partying as if these activities were the defining feature of Western culture. The book isn't all bad, though. Because it's so difficult for Americans to visit Iran, I was looking for a book which could give me some sense of w I love a good travel story, and I enjoyed this one despite several long and uninteresting sections on drinking and illegal partying. In my own extensive travels to the Middle East, the least interesting people I have encountered are invariably those who embrace drinking and partying as if these activities were the defining feature of Western culture. The book isn't all bad, though. Because it's so difficult for Americans to visit Iran, I was looking for a book which could give me some sense of what it's like to visit the country, and this book delivered. There were a few very interesting descriptions of the landscapes and cities and people encountered accompanied with descriptive details about how it was all negotiated. I've always wanted to visit Shiraz and Esfahan and the Caspian Sea, and I felt like I got a pretty good sense of what these places were like from this book. Several other interesting locations were described, as well. I particularly enjoyed these sections of the book. One thing that the author should be downright embarrassed about is the fact that he evidently learned no more than about five Farsi phrases while in the country. If he had bothered to research the matter at all before he went, he could have taken a phrasebook with him which would have aided him in learning at least a few basic expressions which would have been really useful to him. It's not a terribly difficult language to learn as I know from personal experience. (It's certainly much easier than Arabic, for example, or Azeri, the predominant language of Tabriz as the author never seems to have quite grasped.) Another shortcoming of the book is the ongoing and ill-informed political discussion throughout. It's obvious that Maslin has only a very superficial background in the history of Iran's relationship with the West, and he'd do better to point that out rather than try to speak authoritatively on these matters. I fault the editor for not doing a better job of restructuring some of those sections. And, actually, it's probably also due mostly to poor editing decisions that some of the more mundane sections on lame teenage partying I mentioned above were included. The title, too, was poorly conceived. Thankfully, rappers and porn were referenced only briefly in the story. But why structure the title such that people get the wrong idea? That may help sell books in the short term, but it does the book a disservice in the long run. I read this book side-by-side with Elaine Sciolino's _Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran_ and Roger Housden's _Saved By Beauty_. The three books together gave me a combined sense of Iran that I wouldn't have gotten by reading only one or two of them. If you have limited time to devote to reading, I'd go with Mirrors over these other two. On the other hand, if a travelogue is what you are really looking for, this book or _Saved By Beauty_ may be more what you're looking for. ------------------------- Update: I just picked up _The Ayatollah Begs to Differ_, which looks as if it will be another useful book on Iran.

  8. 5 out of 5

    thereadytraveller

    Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn provides glimpses of life in Iran from the viewpoint of a young British backpacker as he is showered with hospitality from nearly all he meets during his journey in and around the country in 2007. Travelling mostly by bus and train, Maslin's journey is an on-the-ground account of the changing attitudes of people within the country towards those in control and one which has resulted in him being banned from visiting Iran again. Maslin had originally planned to hitc Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn provides glimpses of life in Iran from the viewpoint of a young British backpacker as he is showered with hospitality from nearly all he meets during his journey in and around the country in 2007. Travelling mostly by bus and train, Maslin's journey is an on-the-ground account of the changing attitudes of people within the country towards those in control and one which has resulted in him being banned from visiting Iran again. Maslin had originally planned to hitchhike from England to China by following Marco Polo's Silk Route. Having partly funded his travels through taking part in human medical trials, he needs just one more trial to scrape up the last of funds when he fails the requisite test for inclusion. Having spent two months acquiring his Iranian Visa in advance and not wishing to waste it and potentially never receiving one again, Maslin decides to rejig his plans and instead hitchhike to the border of Iran and then properly explore one of the countries that make up the Axis of Evil. Despite numerous warnings from well meaning friends and documentaries that he watches that displays the inherent dangers of visiting Iran, Maslin finally decides to take the leap due to one irrefutable fact - his loathing of his office dead-end job, that is also helping him scrape together enough money to travel. Little time is wasted on the hitchhiking journey to Iran. Two paragraphs gets him from Calais to Eastern Turkey, a journey of some two and a half weeks and sixteen pages later we're taken across the border. From here Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn describes his travels in what is mostly the north west and central part of the country, where he visits well and lesser known locations such as St Thaddeus Church, the Assassins' Castles, Ali Sadr Caves, Esfahan and the jewel in the crown, Persopolis. Maslin utilises a light-hearted approach to describing his time in Iran whilst also infusing this travelogue with a good smattering of history. His outgoing nature and openness is such that he is hosted on numerous occasions by Iranians in their homes and finds himself mingling with mostly younger Iranians at "illegal parties", where both males and females intermingle, getting drunk on surgical spirit and having a few awkward moments when his host puts on a special porn movie. Whilst the book is entertaining and there are flashes of the quality of writing that made the Long Hitch Home so good, in general it remains relatively unpolished. For someone specifically interested in Iran or looking for a different take on Iranian attitudes, however, this is worth a look.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Hitchhiking through Iran! Can you do that? Okay, you can do that, can I do that? If instead of a man, I'm a woman? And instead of English, I'm American? And instead of being of English descent, my grandparents and great grandparents are from Iran? Okay, none of that is his fault, and it has nothing to do with the book. I enjoyed reading about his adventures, for a while. He was attacked and stalked by a cab driver, and obliged to eat organ meat (which he despises, and I can't say I blame him). B Hitchhiking through Iran! Can you do that? Okay, you can do that, can I do that? If instead of a man, I'm a woman? And instead of English, I'm American? And instead of being of English descent, my grandparents and great grandparents are from Iran? Okay, none of that is his fault, and it has nothing to do with the book. I enjoyed reading about his adventures, for a while. He was attacked and stalked by a cab driver, and obliged to eat organ meat (which he despises, and I can't say I blame him). But I think his darkest hour came when he was forced to interact with a fat woman. He went on and on about it. After that, I was a little queasy and couldn't finish the book. Perhaps it will help me lose a couple of pounds, and that way, if he and I ever meet, it won't be so hard on him.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Quick and entertaining read. A provocative title but a book filled with love and respect for the people who call Iran home. A weird mixture of condescension,irreverence, reverence, and awe. Nice color pics of the people and places but NO map!!! Only annoying aspect was the continual rants against the governments of the US and the UK. Author rants more against the West than he does the Iranian government. Nobody likes their government, neither the people of Iran nor the author. Author states he i Quick and entertaining read. A provocative title but a book filled with love and respect for the people who call Iran home. A weird mixture of condescension,irreverence, reverence, and awe. Nice color pics of the people and places but NO map!!! Only annoying aspect was the continual rants against the governments of the US and the UK. Author rants more against the West than he does the Iranian government. Nobody likes their government, neither the people of Iran nor the author. Author states he is banned from going back to Iran but this book will probably boost Western tourism to Iran unless of course current events have interceded-and they probably have.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    The writing is not particularly evocative in this book, though it does get close in a few bits. I feel like the author had some experiences that were likely truly amazing, and it's just not quite conveyed on the page. However, you can almost tell it's there, and it's enough to make me want to visit Iran myself. Sadly, from what I can tell from his experiences, as a woman I would probably not receive the warm and charitable welcome that he got as a man traveling alone through the country. Despite The writing is not particularly evocative in this book, though it does get close in a few bits. I feel like the author had some experiences that were likely truly amazing, and it's just not quite conveyed on the page. However, you can almost tell it's there, and it's enough to make me want to visit Iran myself. Sadly, from what I can tell from his experiences, as a woman I would probably not receive the warm and charitable welcome that he got as a man traveling alone through the country. Despite a decidedly liberal slant (which, being fairly liberal myself, I noticed but was not overly bothered by), there is some very interesting history presented in the book as well.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So many hilarious experiences the author encountered could happen anywhere, and in fact I have experienced some of these: barely running buses that hold 40 people and have a smoking and non-smoking section that make any light color clothing turn gray; feeling like the frog in Frogger when attempting to cross streets; and the world-wide strange fascination with Nescafé.  Overall lesson, which I have lived by during my travels regardless of destination, respect the I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So many hilarious experiences the author encountered could happen anywhere, and in fact I have experienced some of these: barely running buses that hold 40 people and have a smoking and non-smoking section that make any light color clothing turn gray; feeling like the frog in Frogger when attempting to cross streets; and the world-wide strange fascination with Nescafé.  Overall lesson, which I have lived by during my travels regardless of destination, respect the customs and separate the people from the politics. You may be pleasantly surprised...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Love Maslin's descriptions. Totally different (but good) perspective on the average Iranian. I like how he throws some history into his descriptions.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julianne

    First book I've enjoyed reading in a while! Couldn't wait to read another chapter and see what this crazy young dude got up to. I loved the generosity of the people of Iran toward this lone traveler, particularly of a country that supposedly hate us. The beauty of Iran came through in his writing as well as some of the frustrations of dealing with people who were less than honest. Living in a country that spies on a person more obviously than ours is taxing to all conversations and exchanges. I First book I've enjoyed reading in a while! Couldn't wait to read another chapter and see what this crazy young dude got up to. I loved the generosity of the people of Iran toward this lone traveler, particularly of a country that supposedly hate us. The beauty of Iran came through in his writing as well as some of the frustrations of dealing with people who were less than honest. Living in a country that spies on a person more obviously than ours is taxing to all conversations and exchanges. I didn't love how the author had to point out the less attractive people (both male and female) in any given situation, but he was young and single, and so perhaps this was of more importance to him than it is to me. Mr. Maslin did a great job capturing the magic of a difficult country and made me want to go there, too.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Arnett

    I do not relate to this book. I'm not amused but cultural differences such as unorderly traffic and exotic tea etiquette. I don't relate to the privilege of being able to hitchhike through Turkey, stay with random people, or put myself in dangerous situations because of being a white man. I also don't relate to the mentality of going to a country to seek out beautiful women (and eroticize them because of their religion), alcohol, drugs, and 'plentiful' sex.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ip Sing

    Very interesting read on Jamie's adventure in Iran. I've heard of their hospitality and never really knew what it meant till I read Jamie's account. Just wished that he didn't reproduce contents and stuff that could have been found on Wikipedia. It was a waste of his book space. Overall a really insightful read!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hangi Tavakoli

    Very interesting book for me as an Iranian to know the views of a foreigner on our country. However, the name is quite misleading because it gives a background mindset that the book is more of an analytical approach on modern Iranian society. But it is just an amazing diary...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Serge Boucher

    Everything a travel book should be.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pearl Sandhu

    Outstanding. Beautiful. Illuminating. Humourous.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    There are many flavors of travel writing. Ideally, a travel writer aims to give the reader some degree of understanding of the places they're writing about, while also conveying the adventure of travel; no matter what the traveler might know about the lands they're traveling in, there's just no way of knowing what situations one will encounter. But different writers give different emphasis to those various aspects of travel writing. Jamie Maslin definitely tends toward "adventurous" rather than " There are many flavors of travel writing. Ideally, a travel writer aims to give the reader some degree of understanding of the places they're writing about, while also conveying the adventure of travel; no matter what the traveler might know about the lands they're traveling in, there's just no way of knowing what situations one will encounter. But different writers give different emphasis to those various aspects of travel writing. Jamie Maslin definitely tends toward "adventurous" rather than "informative". This is a book about him traveling (often hitchhiking) through Iran, and the people he encounters along the way. He has a guidebook with him, but doesn't start reading about the cities he travels to until he reaches them. He does make some attempt to inform the reader about the history of some of the historical sites he visits- Persepolis, Babak Castle, etc.; dates of construction, historical periods, and so forth. But, absent any wider discussion of Persian history, those details generally fall flat. It's when Maslin tells of the reality he encounters on the ground- the Iran of today, the random average people whom he meets- that the book shines. He takes great pains to dispel the notion that Iran is a land full of dangerous terrorists. The picture he gradually paints is of a land of very generous, friendly people; eager and curious about foreigners and the outside world; too insulated to understand how ridiculous they often appear to outsiders. (And trust me, Maslin provides many examples of that ridiculousness.) There are two subjects Maslin is particularly interested in exploring. First, he wonders what attitude Iranians have toward their own government, and he asks this of virtually everyone he meets. Answer: very few of them express any liking for their theocracy. Second, he wonders about relations between the sexes- flirting, courting- in a land where women are expected to wear restrictive clothing; where unrelated and unmarried men and women cannot be seen alone together; and where alcohol is illegal. He finds that people-young people especially- chafe under these restrictions, and find any way they can of subverting them. And yet, even at the underground party he attends (with music and dancing and alcohol), he finds that the behavior of these young people is- by Western standards- restrained and reserved. I could wish that Maslin had a less snarky sense of humor. At one point, in the middle of the book, he even suggests- a bit tongue-in-cheek- that the reader should go to Amazon.com and give the book a five-star rating. But that's only a minor irritation. For anyone interested in a not-too-deep book about Iran, or travel in general, this is a pretty good read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Peters

    Why I read It The Title!! Which is unfortunate because a lot of people who read these silly reviews I write will avoid this book for the title alone. Too bad for you because Persian porn is covered in less than 3 sentences. As in the guy on the bus was watching porn - and then juxtapositioning the strict society in Iran with someone doing that. The Good As I firmly believe with most demonized people, almost all of them will be pleasant, nice, and unbelievably helpful to you. This book will make eve Why I read It The Title!! Which is unfortunate because a lot of people who read these silly reviews I write will avoid this book for the title alone. Too bad for you because Persian porn is covered in less than 3 sentences. As in the guy on the bus was watching porn - and then juxtapositioning the strict society in Iran with someone doing that. The Good As I firmly believe with most demonized people, almost all of them will be pleasant, nice, and unbelievably helpful to you. This book will make even the most diehard "axis of evil" believers want to visit. Yes Iran does have its problems, especially on the human rights front, but the average person on the street are fantastic. The Bad He can be a little glib, in the way young men are, about certain dangerous situations. And by dangerous I mean hitchhiking, alcohol consumption, and other activities (fast driving). It is also quite superficial, but if you are looking for a detail orientated history of Iran you should probably look elsewhere. The Ugly (my opinion) What defines a good travel book for me is how I feel at the end - Would I have wanted to have taken that trip? I can say a definite yes to this. It is like traveling with the funny British guy from the Lonely Planet show. I like when Iranians ask him what westerners think about Iran and he shares with them that everyone told him not to go because he will get shot. They think that is the funniest thing they have ever heard. You may still feel that but a lot foreigners think that about America too, because all they watch is American movies and television. Everyone is getting shot and killed all the time if that is your only basis of opinion. Wonderful book which at a minimum will change any stereotype opinions you may have about the average Iranian and the country while at the same time being honest about the current regime.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    I read two travel books together - this one and 'the places in between' by Rory Stewart. These young men were of similar age, and perhaps education levels - one Scot - Stewart - and one English. Their travels were each carried out in the early 2000's. I probably enjoyed the comparison more than either book. I have given both 4 stars, but my rating would be closer to 3.5. Stewart is earnest and humourless - travelling through a rough and humourless area - in the existential steps of Wilfred Thesi I read two travel books together - this one and 'the places in between' by Rory Stewart. These young men were of similar age, and perhaps education levels - one Scot - Stewart - and one English. Their travels were each carried out in the early 2000's. I probably enjoyed the comparison more than either book. I have given both 4 stars, but my rating would be closer to 3.5. Stewart is earnest and humourless - travelling through a rough and humourless area - in the existential steps of Wilfred Thesiger. Maslin was irreverent and gregarious - taking every opportunity to meet and share perspectives with the friendly Iranian people whose warmth he showcases in the book. Stewart read his own audio book - and his seriousness was apparent in his reading. This gave his book more authenticity, but his reading did not add lyricism to his rather dogged travel and dogged prose... and there was a dog! I was interested to find out that he is now a British conservative politician. Maslin's audiobook might have been better read by him - I found the narrators voice older and I think the irony and lightheartedness might have been better served by a different tone. However, I enjoyed both books for their ability to provide different perspectives on middle eastern peoples and issues to two very different audiences.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Byron

    Travelogue one of these crazy young CACs who tries to hitchhike all the way from Western Europe to India with nothing but maybe a tent and a backpack with a clean pair of underwear in it. He couldn't get his passport situation straightened out in time, so instead he decided to travel through Iran. Which is one of the countries you want to spend the least amount of time in - if you can't bypass it altogether. Wouldn't you know, his trip to Iran turns out to be an enlightening. As you might suspec Travelogue one of these crazy young CACs who tries to hitchhike all the way from Western Europe to India with nothing but maybe a tent and a backpack with a clean pair of underwear in it. He couldn't get his passport situation straightened out in time, so instead he decided to travel through Iran. Which is one of the countries you want to spend the least amount of time in - if you can't bypass it altogether. Wouldn't you know, his trip to Iran turns out to be an enlightening. As you might suspect, most guys in Iran don't like the idea of women walking around with nothing but the eyes and part of the wrists exposed any more than kids here in the US approve of what this country has become. Most Persians, because they've never been anywhere or seen anything, are clueless as to how ridiculous their country is, but they're not dangerous (like any means) by any means. To hear Maslin tell it, they're the nicest people you'll ever meet. I was tempted to bump this up a notch, because I really dug the political analysis and historical context he provides, but too much of it is neither here nor there to me personally. It's like looking at pictures from some other guy's vacation.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    Wacky travelogue of a guy who hitchhikes through Iran and finds nothing but but friends, spontaneous gifts, good will and good food (mostly). Sure there's a couple of crazy cab drivers (and one guy early on who may or may not have planned to murder Maslin), a choked-down meal of liver and kidneys, bad hotel rooms and mosquitos, but from all accounts, Iran seems to be a travelers paradise for British subjects in 2009. Wonderful accounts of landscapes that most of us will never see, remains of some Wacky travelogue of a guy who hitchhikes through Iran and finds nothing but but friends, spontaneous gifts, good will and good food (mostly). Sure there's a couple of crazy cab drivers (and one guy early on who may or may not have planned to murder Maslin), a choked-down meal of liver and kidneys, bad hotel rooms and mosquitos, but from all accounts, Iran seems to be a travelers paradise for British subjects in 2009. Wonderful accounts of landscapes that most of us will never see, remains of some of the oldest civilizations in the world, the remarkable durability of the Land Rover, and the odd opposition of Iranian youth, wealth and contemporary culture to mullahs and government, but no mujahideen. Made me curious how differently this book might be if experienced and written by a woman, or by an American. The reading timed nicely with Andrew Eames' 8:55 to Baghdad, and made me go back and re-read portions of Eames' work to get another point of view. --Ashland Mystery

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Tabrizi

    In 2008, before the Green Revolution in Iran, Jamie decides to travel the Great Silk Road from Turkey to China. Unable to accomplish this, he decides to use the visa granted him by the Islamic Republic of Iran to travel an extraordinary trip through some of Iran's most beloved landmarks and cities. His perspective as an outsider to the culture and history of Iran gives a fresh perspective of what a tourist might encounter in a travelogue that is filled with representative antidotes and historica In 2008, before the Green Revolution in Iran, Jamie decides to travel the Great Silk Road from Turkey to China. Unable to accomplish this, he decides to use the visa granted him by the Islamic Republic of Iran to travel an extraordinary trip through some of Iran's most beloved landmarks and cities. His perspective as an outsider to the culture and history of Iran gives a fresh perspective of what a tourist might encounter in a travelogue that is filled with representative antidotes and historical background of the cities and customs. The Title of the book, controversial as it may sound, is a reference to the modern path Iran has taken and changed in recent years. Despite state media censorship, young people (2/3 of the country is under the age of 30) consume and produce media in film and music that they are not legally allowed to have. As an Iranian-American who keeps up with history and politics, this book (although not having any citations or index) is an accurate portrayal of modern Iran and the ancient Persian traditions that still are alive within the country.

  26. 4 out of 5

    vyoletkyss

    A lot of this book could have been left out and the title is misleading. The "Iranian Rapper" was Eminem played in Iran and the "Persian Porn" was that guys in Iran look at porn. Guys looking at porn...shocking I know. It was annoying to be reading about Iran and then go into some flashback from England that had nothing to do with what we were reading about in Iran. All that could have been left out, this book wasn't supposed to be a memoir about Jamie's life it was supposed to be about his trip A lot of this book could have been left out and the title is misleading. The "Iranian Rapper" was Eminem played in Iran and the "Persian Porn" was that guys in Iran look at porn. Guys looking at porn...shocking I know. It was annoying to be reading about Iran and then go into some flashback from England that had nothing to do with what we were reading about in Iran. All that could have been left out, this book wasn't supposed to be a memoir about Jamie's life it was supposed to be about his trip and experiences in Iran. For the majority of those parts, the book was interesting. A few things bothered me though, the constant examples about how generous Iranians are, the constant hammering of "American politics is bad, Iranians aren't terrorists" - Duh. Anyone who believed those things in the first place is a moron. All in all this book could have been better, more descriptions and photos of the places he went as the end of the book finally got into and less about his life in England and rhetoric.

  27. 4 out of 5

    El

    I really enjoyed this book. This is a first person account of the author hitchhicking through Iran in 2007. He is British and had a proper visa, however did the hardcore hitchhiking thing for real. His account demonstrates what I already believe - that people are people, and we have more in common than not. His adventures feel like my own adventures on the road - making friends, drinking chay, hiking and taking photos. He does discuss the feeling of people with the government, and it is very muc I really enjoyed this book. This is a first person account of the author hitchhicking through Iran in 2007. He is British and had a proper visa, however did the hardcore hitchhiking thing for real. His account demonstrates what I already believe - that people are people, and we have more in common than not. His adventures feel like my own adventures on the road - making friends, drinking chay, hiking and taking photos. He does discuss the feeling of people with the government, and it is very much like how us Americans feel about our own government (especially the Bush years) - frustration. But he also shares how life is on the streets for real - which is that Iran is a functioning country, where people live, love, work, travel, eat, get married and have families. It is not a war zone anymore - that was the 1980's. But the people are afraid of possible war. They lived through that before and war is hell. Shouldn't we all be afraid of war?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Fox

    A great title! But if you're expecting a salacious exposé of a dingy, underworld life in Iran (c. 2009) this isn't it. It's rather a leisurely trip around most parts of this huge country by a perceptive, intelligent, well-read, accepting, thirty-something (can't find his birth date anywhere) Englishman. The book is breezily written and reads easily. In addition to the usual travel adventures, comic and otherwise, the most amazing perception on which Maslin remarks time and time again is just how A great title! But if you're expecting a salacious exposé of a dingy, underworld life in Iran (c. 2009) this isn't it. It's rather a leisurely trip around most parts of this huge country by a perceptive, intelligent, well-read, accepting, thirty-something (can't find his birth date anywhere) Englishman. The book is breezily written and reads easily. In addition to the usual travel adventures, comic and otherwise, the most amazing perception on which Maslin remarks time and time again is just how kind the Iranians are. Used to viewing the country and thus its people as denizens of one of the "Axis of Evil" places, readers after following Maslin around, can agree with his statement that the ordinary people are "the kindest people I have ever met." The generosity they showed him at every turn was overwhelming and certainly at odds with the admittedly true posturings, lies and suppressions of their government, at best tolerated by a majority of the population.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Austin Outhavong

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Welcome to Iran! My mother of all people passed this one on to me. A quick foray into the lightly-treaded tourist trail in Iran. Best (and only) book I've ever read about tramping around in Iran. First-time author Maslin makes a good guide. Definitely laughed out loud on the airplane with this one. (the "drinking a first aid kit" bit comes to mind) Learned plenty of new things about modern Iran. He does a good job of making friends and taking us into homes, parties, and predicaments around the country. Welcome to Iran! My mother of all people passed this one on to me. A quick foray into the lightly-treaded tourist trail in Iran. Best (and only) book I've ever read about tramping around in Iran. First-time author Maslin makes a good guide. Definitely laughed out loud on the airplane with this one. (the "drinking a first aid kit" bit comes to mind) Learned plenty of new things about modern Iran. He does a good job of making friends and taking us into homes, parties, and predicaments around the country. And of making me feel like I was getting an honest diary. You have to wonder what that truck driver had in mind for him, or what was up with that visa processor. Gonna stop short of a 5-star review. The book left with wanting a little more depth. Maybe deeper writing, or deeper involvement in Iran, or deeper story about the traveler.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Doug Jennings

    I have always wanted to travel to Iran. My wife is from Iran and I had many Persian friends in college. But after the revolution in 1979, I have been hesitant to go. Reading Maslin's book about his adventures hitchhiking through the Islamic Republic was the next best thing to going there myself. And his keen observations of and respect for Iranian culture resonated with my own experience with the Iranians who I've come to know and care about in the U.S. I found the book tremendously entertaining I have always wanted to travel to Iran. My wife is from Iran and I had many Persian friends in college. But after the revolution in 1979, I have been hesitant to go. Reading Maslin's book about his adventures hitchhiking through the Islamic Republic was the next best thing to going there myself. And his keen observations of and respect for Iranian culture resonated with my own experience with the Iranians who I've come to know and care about in the U.S. I found the book tremendously entertaining and informative. My wife and Iranian inlaws who have heard me read excerpts enjoyed Maslin's stories as well. Don't let the saucy title put you off of it. The book is current and timely and the proper antidote to facile stereotypes about a lovely, misunderstood people and region of the world.

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