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Praised by leading academics in the field as “extraordinary,” “a brilliant analysis,” “fresh, provocative and iconoclastic,” Iran: A People Interrupted has distinguished itself as a major work that has single-;handedly effected a revolution in the field of Iranian studies. In this provocative and unprecedented book, Hamid Dabashi—the internationally renowned cultural critic Praised by leading academics in the field as “extraordinary,” “a brilliant analysis,” “fresh, provocative and iconoclastic,” Iran: A People Interrupted has distinguished itself as a major work that has single-;handedly effected a revolution in the field of Iranian studies. In this provocative and unprecedented book, Hamid Dabashi—the internationally renowned cultural critic and scholar of Iranian history and Islamic culture—traces the story of Iran over the past two centuries with unparalleled analysis of the key events, cultural trends, and political developments leading up to the collapse of the reform movement and the emergence of the new and combative presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Written in the author’s characteristically lively and combative prose, Iran combines “delightful vignettes” (Publishers Weekly) from Dabashi’s Iranian childhood and sharp, insightful readings of its contemporary history. In an era of escalating tensions in the Middle East, his defiant moral voice and eloquent account of a national struggle for freedom and democracy against the overwhelming backdrop of U.S. military hegemony fills a crucial gap in our understanding of this country.


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Praised by leading academics in the field as “extraordinary,” “a brilliant analysis,” “fresh, provocative and iconoclastic,” Iran: A People Interrupted has distinguished itself as a major work that has single-;handedly effected a revolution in the field of Iranian studies. In this provocative and unprecedented book, Hamid Dabashi—the internationally renowned cultural critic Praised by leading academics in the field as “extraordinary,” “a brilliant analysis,” “fresh, provocative and iconoclastic,” Iran: A People Interrupted has distinguished itself as a major work that has single-;handedly effected a revolution in the field of Iranian studies. In this provocative and unprecedented book, Hamid Dabashi—the internationally renowned cultural critic and scholar of Iranian history and Islamic culture—traces the story of Iran over the past two centuries with unparalleled analysis of the key events, cultural trends, and political developments leading up to the collapse of the reform movement and the emergence of the new and combative presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Written in the author’s characteristically lively and combative prose, Iran combines “delightful vignettes” (Publishers Weekly) from Dabashi’s Iranian childhood and sharp, insightful readings of its contemporary history. In an era of escalating tensions in the Middle East, his defiant moral voice and eloquent account of a national struggle for freedom and democracy against the overwhelming backdrop of U.S. military hegemony fills a crucial gap in our understanding of this country.

30 review for Iran: A People Interrupted

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    "But whereas at the edge of a normative nihilism post-modernity has dismantled moral and political agency, from the edges of a normalized alterity anticolonial modernity in fact engenders, justifies and theorizes it." That's an actual sentence from the book. You will notice that it is pointlessly convoluted, full of jargon, and entirely devoid of meaning. That's 80% of the book. The other 20% is interesting Iranian history of the past 200 years -- political movements, rulers, colonial incursions "But whereas at the edge of a normative nihilism post-modernity has dismantled moral and political agency, from the edges of a normalized alterity anticolonial modernity in fact engenders, justifies and theorizes it." That's an actual sentence from the book. You will notice that it is pointlessly convoluted, full of jargon, and entirely devoid of meaning. That's 80% of the book. The other 20% is interesting Iranian history of the past 200 years -- political movements, rulers, colonial incursions, and the arts. That hardly justifies plowing through this mess of incoherence, hostile ideology stated as fact, and infuriatingly turgid prose. Paragraph-long sentences, clauses nested within clauses within clauses, meaningless big words, and poor transliteration -- the crimes against good writing are cruel and plentiful. Why use the word "alterity" when "otherness" will suffice? And why, in a work about the essence of being Iranian, call the work of the great Molana Rumi by its Arabic transliteration ("Mathnawi") when no Iranian would call it anything but the Masnavi? I almost never post negative reviews, but I feeI like I know less about Iran after having read this book, and that's just not right. Unless that's your goal, you're better off reading something else.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aunnalea

    A history of Iran over the past 200 years, focusing on the Iranian struggle against colonialism. This guy focuses a lot on literature, poetry, cinema, and other art to tell the story of Iran. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time following a lot of what he was saying because I am not at all familiar with the history of Iran and the names and places were hard for me to keep straight. BUT, the book got more interesting towards the end. I'd love to hear what anyone who knows more about Iran than A history of Iran over the past 200 years, focusing on the Iranian struggle against colonialism. This guy focuses a lot on literature, poetry, cinema, and other art to tell the story of Iran. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time following a lot of what he was saying because I am not at all familiar with the history of Iran and the names and places were hard for me to keep straight. BUT, the book got more interesting towards the end. I'd love to hear what anyone who knows more about Iran than me and has read this book thought about it. "Resisting the onslaught of the misbegotten U.S. empire, its military might and faltering hegemony alike, are tall and graceful lighthouses of the collective will of people around the globe insisting on their pride of place, the dignity of their communal gathering to oppose and end tyranny in terms conducive to a future that is rooted in their own unending and unfolding history." p. 216

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jackson Cyril

    Dabashi's description of the Ayatollah is pithy and memorable, "an ascetic who fed on dates, yogurt and vengeance". He maintains his pithy statements, iconoclastic vigor and satiric power throughout, attacking everyone: Qajar and Pahlavi monarchs, the US, bureaucrats, the expatriate bourgeois and Islamists. The heroes of Iran, in Dabashi's take, are the creative artists-- novelists, poets, journalists and film makers-- who kept Iranian culture alive-- interestingly not all of these folks actuall Dabashi's description of the Ayatollah is pithy and memorable, "an ascetic who fed on dates, yogurt and vengeance". He maintains his pithy statements, iconoclastic vigor and satiric power throughout, attacking everyone: Qajar and Pahlavi monarchs, the US, bureaucrats, the expatriate bourgeois and Islamists. The heroes of Iran, in Dabashi's take, are the creative artists-- novelists, poets, journalists and film makers-- who kept Iranian culture alive-- interestingly not all of these folks actually worked in Farsi.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Luis

    If Hamid Dabashi had not spent so much space in his hateful ranting about the west and specially the US, this book would have been a third smaller and better. I decided to read the book to learn about Iranian history but instead time after time what you get is the author's diatribes of American foreign policy. My only explanation for this is that this author is your typical leftists professor whose explanation to every problem in the world has to do with American 'imperialism" while portraying t If Hamid Dabashi had not spent so much space in his hateful ranting about the west and specially the US, this book would have been a third smaller and better. I decided to read the book to learn about Iranian history but instead time after time what you get is the author's diatribes of American foreign policy. My only explanation for this is that this author is your typical leftists professor whose explanation to every problem in the world has to do with American 'imperialism" while portraying the locals and natives of each region as helpless victims. There is also a lot of literary history which I found puzzling since I never got the concrete connection between Iran's politics and it's literary traditions. While he does criticize the theocracy that governs Iran, it does not come close to the berating he gives the US. Overall I wished I've had more history of Iran and less biased opinion. More politics and less literature.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elçin Yıldızbayrak

    Dabashi as professor at Iranian studies and comperative literature, is presenting a comprehensive view for the history of Iran for 200 years. The book provides better understanding about the current political and social circumstances of Iran. Modernizm versus traditionalism, (in other words West or East) is one of the major dilemmas of Middle Eastern countries which adapt modernism and industrialization late after European and American countries. Dabashi emphasizes an opposite perspective and su Dabashi as professor at Iranian studies and comperative literature, is presenting a comprehensive view for the history of Iran for 200 years. The book provides better understanding about the current political and social circumstances of Iran. Modernizm versus traditionalism, (in other words West or East) is one of the major dilemmas of Middle Eastern countries which adapt modernism and industrialization late after European and American countries. Dabashi emphasizes an opposite perspective and suggests that what they encountered at Iran is colonial modernizm not only western modernizm. I highly recommend the book to ones who look for further understanding for changing dynamics of Iran, disputes between different political and socio-economic classes and influence of cultural events.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tegan

    Shelved a quarter of the way through this book. I was hoping for a historical background of the Iranian people to give me insight of how they live and interact with the world today. This was an irritating collection of opinions that seemed disconnected and sloppy. I’m all for offering a different point of view but this one failed to provide what I desired.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    "Writing history is resisting power, particularly when eradicating history and cultivating a deliberate amnesia, in theory and practice, is the single most abiding manner of projecting the open-ended power of this [American] empire and discrediting the necessary modes of contesting and resisting it." This is a an argument written with history, it's history with an axe to grind - which in my mind is far more interesting than any supposedly objective history. This book, despite its minor flaws, pr "Writing history is resisting power, particularly when eradicating history and cultivating a deliberate amnesia, in theory and practice, is the single most abiding manner of projecting the open-ended power of this [American] empire and discrediting the necessary modes of contesting and resisting it." This is a an argument written with history, it's history with an axe to grind - which in my mind is far more interesting than any supposedly objective history. This book, despite its minor flaws, provides a far better understanding of recent Iranian political and literary history than pretty much any other book on Iran you can find in American bookstores.

  8. 5 out of 5

    J

    A book about the history of Iran, particularly, literary, cultural, political. Dabashi is greatly influenced by E. Said and the colonial studies school, and aptly uses those ideas to tell a fascinating story about Iran and its people, and draw meaningful conclusions from contemporary events concerning Iran. While Dabashi's analyzes are most often very thought-provoking, the book has too much personal touches, and is not an "objective" book in history. There are plenty of places where the author A book about the history of Iran, particularly, literary, cultural, political. Dabashi is greatly influenced by E. Said and the colonial studies school, and aptly uses those ideas to tell a fascinating story about Iran and its people, and draw meaningful conclusions from contemporary events concerning Iran. While Dabashi's analyzes are most often very thought-provoking, the book has too much personal touches, and is not an "objective" book in history. There are plenty of places where the author gets emotional and based on obscure anecdotes derives general results; for instance when Dabashi maintains that before the constitutional revolution, there was (and nowadays if you travel in Iran rural areas, there is) no sense of "nation" among people. This claim is supported by recalling that once a fiend of Dabashi met a villager who didn't know where "Iran" is. Or, suddenly Dabashi dismisses the entire body of anthropological work as useless, based on what?! etc. Apart from these emotional moments, the book is likable, and tries to explain to Iranians why they don't need to take pride in their pre-islamic Iran, but instead their contemporary movements are the very "modernism" everyone is talking about.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Roxy

    Dabashi suffers for a number of distinctly Iranian diseases. All is sacred while nothing is sacred, all is serious while nothing is serious, and finally the problem of Iranian philosophy having been embedded in its poetry...where a single verse can speak volumes. While Dabashi tackles some extremely thoughtful subjects beyond his discussion of history, the book loses some value as he delves into unnecessary and at times ad hominen attacks. There are so many new ideas introduced here and left hal Dabashi suffers for a number of distinctly Iranian diseases. All is sacred while nothing is sacred, all is serious while nothing is serious, and finally the problem of Iranian philosophy having been embedded in its poetry...where a single verse can speak volumes. While Dabashi tackles some extremely thoughtful subjects beyond his discussion of history, the book loses some value as he delves into unnecessary and at times ad hominen attacks. There are so many new ideas introduced here and left half-baked. This is a book ripe for revision and expansion. A year or two off concentrating on expanding the political-philosophical ideas contained here should result in a work paralleling or surpassing one of Dabashi's inspirations - Edward Said. [My father both read and reviewed this book, not me!:]

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mina Mohebbi

    This book, Iran: A People Interrupted by Hamid Dabashi is quite unlike any historical record I have ever read. Dabashi refers to his book as the true accounts of what happened throughout the length of Iranian history. However, as well as providing extensive amounts of facts, the author thoroughly analyses the effects of events on the people of Iran. Personally, I took time to analyse and compare the section on the Revolution and its effects on people. Seeing Dabashi's uncensored view on things h This book, Iran: A People Interrupted by Hamid Dabashi is quite unlike any historical record I have ever read. Dabashi refers to his book as the true accounts of what happened throughout the length of Iranian history. However, as well as providing extensive amounts of facts, the author thoroughly analyses the effects of events on the people of Iran. Personally, I took time to analyse and compare the section on the Revolution and its effects on people. Seeing Dabashi's uncensored view on things happening before, during, and after the revolution is refreshing and really resonates with thereader. He is not afraid to denounce the Western world for taking away democracy, or monopolising oil. I highly recommend this book to people who take an interest in history, because the facts, combined with the perspective, make for an extremely informative text.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    If I didn't concur with Dabashi's basic argument, I would knock this book down a star. His gratuitous ad hominem attacks on right-wing demagogues who could far too easily be discredited without resorting to calling them "senile" and "thugs" detract from the seriousness of this book. More importantly, Dabashi spends a good quarter of this book discussing Kant, Spivak, and Said, simultaneously glossing over economic necessities. The intended readership of this trade published book will inevitably If I didn't concur with Dabashi's basic argument, I would knock this book down a star. His gratuitous ad hominem attacks on right-wing demagogues who could far too easily be discredited without resorting to calling them "senile" and "thugs" detract from the seriousness of this book. More importantly, Dabashi spends a good quarter of this book discussing Kant, Spivak, and Said, simultaneously glossing over economic necessities. The intended readership of this trade published book will inevitably be put off by his constant "post/colonial" digressions. Finally, his overemphasis on "Reading Lolita in Tehran" is counterproductive. He already wrote on this at length in al-Ahram, and there is no need to keep kicking a dead horse. And kicking it. And kicking it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Colleen McClowry

    This wasn't a page turner in the least bit. The book is highly academic. It uses just about every social science buzz word you can think of, sometimes in one long-winded sentence. Once you get past all the critical theory that shapes Dabashi's writing though, this book is well worth a read. The book covers a range of topics related to Iranian history: literature, film, language, gender roles, and ethnic minorities. It does so while focusing on specific time periods and key events over the last 2 This wasn't a page turner in the least bit. The book is highly academic. It uses just about every social science buzz word you can think of, sometimes in one long-winded sentence. Once you get past all the critical theory that shapes Dabashi's writing though, this book is well worth a read. The book covers a range of topics related to Iranian history: literature, film, language, gender roles, and ethnic minorities. It does so while focusing on specific time periods and key events over the last 200 years. Most importantly, the book demolishes all the myths, both past and present, that Americans (and all the occidentalists as Dabashi might say) have been told about Iran. After reading the book, I'm still just trying to figure out: What is Iran?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This is pretty good overall. Dabashi makes some very presceient observations about the idiotic ways in which people misunderstand their history, all while giving a fascinating (if truncated) run-down of the intellectual and social history of a nation that unfortunately has been reduced in our culture to a few sondbites from its rather controversial president. Dabashi's writing can feel overwrought and frantic at times. He also repeats himself quite a bit. I actually found myself wanting the book This is pretty good overall. Dabashi makes some very presceient observations about the idiotic ways in which people misunderstand their history, all while giving a fascinating (if truncated) run-down of the intellectual and social history of a nation that unfortunately has been reduced in our culture to a few sondbites from its rather controversial president. Dabashi's writing can feel overwrought and frantic at times. He also repeats himself quite a bit. I actually found myself wanting the book to be longer, as some of the events he touches upon are not really unpacked in their full scope. A fascinating, wide ranging book from a wide ranging intellect.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is the sort of political nonfiction Americans should be reading more of. Grounded in a firm critical-theory base (Said, Fanon, Agamben, Adorno), it expounds upon a range of topics within the scope of Iranian history; literature, film, personal stories, and the role of ethnic minorities help to provide a line of connection to the history of a culture so systematically ignored or misrepresented by Americans. Perhaps most importantly, it pointed out a number of flaws in my own reasoning, showi This is the sort of political nonfiction Americans should be reading more of. Grounded in a firm critical-theory base (Said, Fanon, Agamben, Adorno), it expounds upon a range of topics within the scope of Iranian history; literature, film, personal stories, and the role of ethnic minorities help to provide a line of connection to the history of a culture so systematically ignored or misrepresented by Americans. Perhaps most importantly, it pointed out a number of flaws in my own reasoning, showing me how opinions and attitudes are fundamentally orientalist. Good call, Hamid Dabashi.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristoffer

    Amazing in scope but with a slightly tiresome and repetitive prose.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sima

    Reading it now.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sareh

    So far this book is poetic and revealing. So far so great!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jbelbo

  19. 4 out of 5

    Reza Shaeri Shaeri

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tina Musa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shaheen Sultan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rick Berger

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nadia Javeed

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shabnam

  26. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yavuz

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ali

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pierre Gilly

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